Sussex were pegged back to 278-7 on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One clash with Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Chris Nash and Luke Wells put on 121 for the first wicket but they lost seven in making the next 74 runs against a much-weakened attack in which emergency loanee Maurice Chambers took 3-51 in 21 overs.
It was only a timely intervention by Chris Jordan, in his first innings since his selection for England's one-day squad, that got them up to a reasonable total at the close.
The all-rounder played responsibly for an unbeaten 58, reaching his second first-class fifty of the season from 89 balls while putting on an unbroken 83 with the equally resourceful Will Beer (23 not out).
Although Sussex began this round of matches trailing the leaders by 33 points, they are eyeing up a way into the title race with games to come against the top two - Durham, home and away, and Yorkshire at Hove.
The immediate task is made less daunting because of the number of players unavailable to Warwickshire.
Aside from their England regulars Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, they are also without captain Jim Troughton and five seam bowlers, Chris Woakes, Rikki Clarke, Chris Wright, Boyd Rankin and Oliver Hannon-Dalby.
Hence the move to make Chambers their second loan signing in a week, although Richard Jones, the other recruit from Worcestershire, is also on the injured list.
Chambers, out of favour at Essex, last took a wicket in the championship in April and earlier this month he appeared for Nottinghamshire in a Second XI fixture.
Yet there was little sign of rustiness in his bowling, quick, accurate and ultimately successful after Nash and Wells had completed a century stand against Warwickshire for the second time this season.
It was a test for all the bowlers defending a short boundary in front of the Hollies Stand which, in places, is only 49 yards from the pitch. So much international cricket has been played on the ground that the ECB had to give special dispensation to use this strip on the edge of the square.
Chambers eventually interrupted Sussex's flying start when Nash was leg-before for 59 and Warwickshire's revival was under way with Keith Barker removing Michael Yardy, trapped in front for 21, and Wells, who clipped a simple catch to mid-on after making 65.
Rory Hamilton-Brown was first to fall to spin, caught at short mid-on off Jeetan Patel, and Ed Joyce, flailing outside off stump, was out to Recordo Gordon's first ball after tea.
The impressive Chambers then struck in successive overs as Matt Machan's mistimed pull found mid-on and Ben Brown became the third lbw casualty of the day.