Middlesex's Neil Dexter hit a valuable fifty as the Panthers struggled with the bat on day two of their LV= County Championship match against Durham at Chester-le-Street.
The North East county finished the day 63 runs ahead of Middlesex on 37/0 having bowled out Chris Rogers' outfit for 196.
It could have been a lot worse for Middlesex but for Dexter's gritty half century and a quick 42 from John Simpson.
Resuming on 11/2 overnight Middlesex soon found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 35/5 after England seamer Graham Onions dismissed Dawid Malan and Joe Denly and Ben Stokes picked up the wicket of Tom Smith.
Dexter - who hit 52 from 103 balls - and Simpson came together to put on 68 for the sixth wicket saving Middlesex from a sub-100 total.
The tail wagged for the away side, led by former Glamorgan quick James Harris who chipped in with 37 before Rogers' side were dismissed for 196.
Onions, who will have reminded the England selectors of his worth and re-emphasised the depth of seam bowling in English county cricket, finished with figures of 5/42 to take his tally to 23, seven behind Middlesex's Tim Murtagh who is currently the highest wicket taker this season in the country with 30.
In their second innings Durham got off to a faultless start after a blistering 31 in just 34 balls from Mark Stoneman saw the home side finish the day on 37/0.