Jade Dernbach took three wickets as Middlesex were in danger of being made to follow on after two days of their LV= County Championship Division One match against Surrey at Lord's.
The hosts collapsed to 161-9 by stumps, still 28 runs away from avoiding the follow-on with Surrey having earlier posted a first innings total of 338.
In truth the visitors would have been looking for considerably more having lost their final six wickets for just 71 runs in the morning, but their total took on a new dimension once their bowlers started making inroads.
The rot started for Middlesex when skipper Chris Rogers, recalled to Australia's Ashes squad this summer, drove at a wide one from Zander de Bruyn and dragged it onto his middle stump when on 21.
Sam Robson and Joe Denly set about repairing the damage with a second-wicket stand of 44 but the impressive Dernbach - who finished with 3-59 - broke it by pinning Denly lbw with a ball that kept low.
Dawid Malan was then leg before to Gareth Batty's first ball before De Bruyn picked up his second wicket when he had Robson (36) caught behind.
And when Dernbach took two in two balls, Neil Dexter edging to second slip and Paul Stirling falling leg before first up, Middlesex were in real trouble at 121-6.
Toby Roland-Jones averted the hat-trick but, after John Simpson drove Batty tamely to mid-on, then gave Chris Tremlett a simple return catch and, when Steven Finn was leg before to Tim Linley, it was left to Tim Murtagh to block out the final over.
Earlier, Surrey had added only seven to their overnight 267-4 when Steve Davies was trapped leg before by an inswinging delivery from Murtagh.
De Bruyn and Gary Wilson managed to secure a third batting point with three balls to spare before Roland-Jones got the ball to lift more steeply than anyone else had done and De Bruyn gloved it to the wicketkeeper.
Wilson, demoted from number three to number seven after scoring a century in Surrey's last game against Sussex, stood firm with an unbeaten 30 but there were two wickets apiece for Corey Collymore and Stirling, the part-time off spinner, as the last four wickets fell for 18.