Michael Carberry narrowly missed the chance to celebrate his inclusion in England's Ashes squad with a century as Hampshire moved into a good position on day one of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Essex at The Ageas Bowl.
Carberry, a controversial choice by the England selectors, was out for 85 as Hampshire reached the close on 398-8 from 96 overs to dent Essex's already slim promotion hopes.
Fellow Ashes tourist Monty Panesar got through 26 overs for Essex on an unhelpful surface but had to wait until his final over of the day before snaring Danny Briggs leg before for his only wicket which came at a personal cost of 91 runs.
James Vince made 82 for the home side and former Essex batsman Adam Wheater was unbeaten on the same score at the close.
Essex captain James Foster surrendered his normal place behind the stumps to allow Ben Foakes the chance to keep wicket and even took a catch at mid-on to remove Liam Dawson.
But Hampshire had no problems building a healthy total, even after losing their captain Jimmy Adams (20) to a catch at slip by Tom Westley off Sajid Mahmood with the score on 41.
Dawson and Carberry put on 86 for the second wicket before Mahmood, making a rare Championship appearance, induced Dawson (40) to become only his third victim of the summer.
Former England bowler Mahmood later conceded four fours in an over to Vince and finished with unflattering figures of 2-80 from 12 overs, handing Hampshire another 12 runs in no-balls.
Vince, gunning for his fourth first class century in as many matches, helped Carberry add 100 for the third wicket with the opener accelerating only after reaching an unusually dogged half-century.
Just when his century seemed assured, Carberry pulled a short delivery from part-time spinner Greg Smith to mid-wicket where Tymal Mills held a spectacular diving catch two-handed.
Carberry, who had earlier straight-driven Smith for six, also hit 13 fours in his 152-ball innings and his departure at 227-3 heralded a short spell of success for Essex.
Smith, who is better known for his medium pace, removed Sean Ervine to a catch at the wicket, bowled Michael Bates and then won a lbw verdict to dismiss Matt Coles.
In between, Graham Napier had Vince lbw in the 69th over and suddenly with Smith's successes at the other end, Hampshire were 304-7.
But Wheater, who left Essex at the end of last season when they would have preferred to have kept him, was joined by Briggs in an eighth wicket stand of 88 as Essex failed to capitalise after breaching the middle order.
At the close of play, Wheater had so far hit nine fours and a six off Smith, who ended with creditable figures of 4-47 off 17 overs, but Hampshire were firmly in the ascendancy.