Hampshire 142 for 9 (Northeast 53, J Overton 3-22) lead Somerset 106 (Abbott 5-31) by 36 runs
For three seasons in a row Hampshire have escaped relegation from Division One by little more than a whisker, and Sam Northeast's dogged 53 gave them a fighting chance of another great escape on a day that saw 19 wickets fall to seam at the Ageas Bowl.
Going into last week's game at New Road, Hampshire looked set to be sucked into the relegation mire yet again, but that win and their first-day efforts here will give them hope that the quagmire can be avoided without the same anxieties of previous years.
Defeat here would almost certainly spell the death knell for Somerset's Championship chances, but it would be foolish to write them off in this game just yet: the pitch may yet flatten out into a more typical Ageas Bowl surface, and with the deficit just 36, there is still every chance they can bat their way back into contention.
One senses that few tears would be shed outside of the county borders if Hampshire were to end this season in the bottom two. Their Championship attendances are regularly among the lowest in the top flight, and bad blood lingers after their survival during the Durham debacle of 2016. Throw into the mix the fact that not a single ball has been delivered by an Englishman in their past three innings, and it is safe to conclude that Hampshire have won little support from neutrals since their return to Division One.
While this effort was largely dictated by the efforts of Northeast, who took three hours over his first Championship fifty at this ground since his move from Kent, and the cosmopolitan bowling attack, their home-grown stalwart Jimmy Adams made an invaluable 31 in conditions that demanded grit and patience.
Adams is in his final run of games ahead of his retirement at the end of the season, and while he has rarely flirted with England contention or grabbed national attention, he is a highly-respected character on the county circuit, and - like one other left-handed opener has this week - he demonstrated the value of leaving well and digging in as Somerset sought early wickets.
At 68 for 6, Hampshire looked in danger of succumbing to a first-innings deficit, but Northeast and Liam Dawson combined to steer them into the lead and towards a useful position. Neither played a brilliant, fluent innings, but they picked off width from the change bowlers in a crucial stand of 56, the highest of the day.
An hour into the day, there was no real sign of the carnage that was imminent. While Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott both nipped the new ball around, that had come as little surprise, and Tom Abell's decision to bat after winning the toss seemed perfectly reasonable.
Going into the final run of games, Abbott's efforts for the season were distinctly underwhelming: as of the start of August, he had 17 Championship wickets at 40.47 and an economy rate of 11.5 in a handful of Blast games.
But he has 24 wickets at 10.63 in the last three-and-a-half first-class games, and looked like his old self here, lifting a few balls sharply off the pitch and finding considerable movement off the seam.
After missing his length several times in his first over, which went for 17, Abbott found Marcus Trescothick's edge, before removing James Hildreth, Steven Davies, Lewis Gregory, and Jamie Overton in a spell of four wickets for as many runs in as many overs than spanned the lunch interval; Gregory and Overton were unfortunate to get balls that hardly got up on the bounce.
Ben Green, on his second Championship appearance, was the only Somerset batsman to look settled at the crease in his patient 26, and his wicket - bowled by an inswinger from the relentless Ian Holland - brought about a collapse of 8 for 42.
Somerset may well feel aggrieved at the lack of scrutiny surrounding this pitch after the furore over the Taunton wicket in last week's game. A decision as to whether they will be docked points for that pitch is expected to come before the start of next week's game against Surrey, but by that stage their title hopes may well have evaporated. One Jamie Overton delivery here that trapped Tom Alsop lbw playing no shot suggested that the seam movement on offer occasionally exceeded reasonable levels despite the comparative silence from social media jurors.