Durham 273 and 197 (Tongue 5-37) lead Worcestershire 390 (Wessels 118, Whitely 72, Dell 61) by 80 runs
Durham head coach James Franklin told his players they needed to show more resilience after slipping to defeat in each of their first two Championship matches. They were a while ago, and in the meantime Durham were unlucky not to reach the knock-out stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup. He may conclude after this, though, that the message is not yet hitting home.
He defined resilience as the ability to maintain concentration and focus, something they have been able to master for short periods in the 50-over game but appear to find more difficult when the requirement is to stay in that mode for hours rather than minutes.
This match has been a case in point. Had they been able to turn the screw after Riki Wessels was out on the second evening, at which point Worcestershire were 236 for 6, with the new ball about to become available, it might have been a different story.
Instead, they allowed Ross Whiteley and the lower order to plunder runs so effectively that a 37-run deficit turned into a 117-run lead before the last four wickets were prised out. Worcestershire, 321 for 6 overnight, won the morning session comfortably, the innings closing just before lunch with Durham already looking at a draw as their best possible outcome.
But if that were not enough to have a coach shaking his head, they lost the next session comprehensively too, five wickets down before tea and still seven runs in arrears.
Charlie Morris, his tail up after his 6 for 53 in the first innings, struck the first blow, trapping Alex Lees in front with a full delivery, his route back to the pavilion soon followed by Cameron Steel, who looked round at his off stump in some puzzlement at how his forward defence had failed to cover it.
Cameron Bancroft, given the benefit of the doubt on two when Joe Leach was certain he had him leg before, responded aggressively with four quick boundaries, three of them off Ed Barnard in a uncharacteristically loose spell at first change.
It was not long, though, before even the captain was guilty of a lapse, a touch of indecision against Josh Tongue costing him when the ball squirted on to his stumps off an inside edge.
Tongue could do with some luck this year. Successful enough the last two summers to be on the England Lions radar, he has been twice named in winter tour squads only to be forced out by injury, the latest a stress fracture in his left foot that denied him a trip to play Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
That wicket broke a stand worth 49 between Bancroft and Gareth Harte before Harte fell to an excellent piece of work by Ben Cox, standing up to Barnard and executing a leg-side stumping that was so sharp it could have been planned.
Tongue then struck twice more, bowling Ned Eckersley just before tea and finding the edge to have Jack Burnham caught behind just afterwards. Tongue took six wickets in Worcestershire's win at Leicester in their opening match. Ashley Giles, the England director of cricket, was on the ground, and though he was not here on a scouting mission it would have been unusual for him to take no notice of what was happening on the field.
At that moment, the possibility of a three-day result loomed until a fightback of sorts occurred, with Liam Trevaskis, a 20-year-old left-arm spinner who made a half-century in his last Championship outing against Sussex at Chester-le-Street, leading the way.
He could not quite repeat the feat this time, but it took Worcestershire more than two hours to dislodge him for 47, which was the kind of resistance Franklin would doubtless have liked to see a little higher up the order.
Trevaskis was another victim for Tongue, who followed up by yorking Matt Salisbury first ball to finish with 5 for 37. Leach finished things off by having Rushworth caught behind, leaving Worcestershire to chase 81 to win on the last day.
There is a bit of rain in the forecast, but not as much as Durham would like. The defeat, when it is confirmed, will be their fifth in the row in Championship cricket.