Richard Gleeson came back to haunt his former county, as he claimed his first five-wicket haul for Lancashire to give them the edge over Northamptonshire on day one at Old Trafford.
His efforts, coupled with those of Graham Onions, helped dismiss the visitors for 230 before Lancashire batted to the close on 29 for one.
The return of the County Championship, after a block of Royal London One-Day Cup action, was greeted with glorious sunshine.
On what also seemed to be a good-looking batting track, it was perhaps something of a surprise when Red Rose skipper Dane Vilas won the toss and asked Northants to bat – which is clearly what the visitors wanted as they turned down the chance to simply elect to bowl.
That decision put pressure on the Lancashire bowlers – fresh from their semi-final One-Day Cup defeat against Hampshire on Sunday – to make early inroads.
They were unable to do so with the new ball as Ricardo Vasconcelos and Rob Newton took the score to 38 without loss – even though Newton had sustained an injury and required a runner.
But Gleeson’s introduction into the attack changed things. The seamer, who was signed from Northants at the back end of last season, had Vasconcelos caught behind for 23 before doing the same thing to Alex Wakely for two.
The visitors were going fairly well at 80 for two at lunch, before Gleeson began to make his mark again, first removing Newton for 32 and then Rob Keogh for three.
Tom Bailey got in on the act by dismissing Josh Cobb for a second-ball duck and then Onions removed debutant South Africa international Temba Bavuma for 39. Suddenly, in less than 10 overs after lunch, Northants had slipped from 80 for two to 119 for six.
But they rallied well as Luke Procter and loanee Luke Wood shared a partnership of 70 – former Lancashire man Procter falling for 48 shortly before Tea as Gleeson wrapped up his five-for.
Wood, who has returned on loan from Nottinghamshire, carried on his way post the interval but Jamie Overton – loaned in from Somerset – and Nathan Buck fell cheaply.
Wood made 66 and was the last man to fall, well caught by Bailey to give Onions his fourth wicket.
There were 15 overs remaining in the day as Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed walked to the crease.
Both had looked in good touch but Hameed departed for seven, caught at slip off the bowling of Ben Sanderson.
Jennings and Australia Test batsman Joe Burns, on his Lancashire debut, batted through to the close on 29 for one.