Trent Copeland claimed his first five-wicket haul of the season to help Northamptonshire restrict Kent to 271 all out on day one of their Division Two fixture at Canterbury.
The Australian quick bowler, overlooked from this summer's Ashes and ICC Champions Trophy squads, returned county-best figures of 5-71 as Kent slumped from 204-3 to claim just two batting points on the opening day.
Having won the toss on the first day's championship cricket of the season at St Lawrence Ground, Kent suffered an early casualty with the departure of Sam Northeast (10) who lost middle and off stumps when pushing hesitantly half-forward against in-form left-arm seamer David Willey (2-57).
Brendan Nash, the former West Indies batsman now on Kolpak registration, chopped on against Steven Crook to go for 18 and just seven balls later Rob Key (16) edged a Copeland leg-cutter to Andrew Hall at first slip to make it 55-3.
The hosts rallied either side of lunch with a fourth-wicket stand worth 149 in 52.2 overs between Michael Powell, the former Glamorgan veteran, and England Under-19 starlet Daniel Bell-Drummond.
Powell was at his professional best in posting a 112-ball 50 with eight fours but Bell-Drummond, a graduate of the Kent Academy, should have gone for 32 when Kyle Coetzer dropped the simplest of chances at square leg from a skied hook.
Steven Crook (3-78), the unlucky bowler, eventually broke the stand 28 overs later when Powell, on 70, wafted lamely at a wide ball to edge low to wicketkeeper David Murphy and spark a collapse that saw Kent lose seven wickets for 67 in the final session - five of them to the second new ball.
Four overs later, Crook struck again when Bell-Drummond, having batted almost three-and-a-half hours for 68, mistimed an attempted pull only to pick out substitute fielder Oli Stone at square leg.
Brothers-in-law Geraint Jones and James Tredwell added 31 before Jones inside-edged a Copeland lifter to the keeper then Matt Coles wastefully chipped one to mid-off to go without scoring.
Tredwell (19) edged into the cordon to give Willey a second scalp and Mark Davies (12) rocked back to force only to pick out Stephen Peters in the cover.
Last man Charlie Shreck lasted only five balls before Copeland, the pick of an impressive Northamptonshire attack, rearranged his stumps.