DURHAM need 154 more runs to record their second County Championship win over nearest rivals Lancashire in less than a month.
But they will have to get them without Michael Di Venuto, Gordon Muchall, and Graham Onions, all dismissed in a ten-over early evening session.
Durham were 27-3 at the close, with Will Smith standig firm on eight not out.
The table-toppers set themselves a target of 181 for victory after making short work of bowling out Lancashire after tea.
But they lost Di Venuto and Muchall early, both given lbw by Mark Benson.
The umpire may have had to consider the height of the Kyle Hogg delivery Di Venuto played across, but Muchall seemed to be beaten by a little inswing as a full ball from the same bowler thudded into his pads.
It meant Onions, who was building a reputation as an obdurate Test match No.11 before a stress fracture of his back, was given the job of nightwatchman.
He did not delay Paul Collingwood's introduction very long, edging Sajid Mahmood's first ball to be brilliantly caught by Steven Croft moving right at third slip for one. Collingwood was two not out when the players came off for the day.
Earlier Onions took 4-74 as Lancashire were bowled out for 282.
He struck in only his second ball of the final session, Gareth Cross late on a delivery which removed his leg stump.
Mahmood also played onto the same stump in playing back to the England fast bowler. Also like Cross, he made eight.
Scott Borthwick got his only wicket of the game when Hogg poked the ball to Smith at bat-pad, who took a good catch.
Luke Procter was dangerous in making 52, the half century coming up off 103 balls with eight fours. But he also played on, losing off-stump as he tried an angled-bat shot at Callum Thorp, whose final figures were 2-53.
Pakistan paceman Junaid Khan, making his Championship debut as an overseas player for Lancashire, hit a big six into the pavilion but was bowled for 12 when he forgot to move his feet to Onions.
For a full report of the day's play, read tomorrow's Journal.
Anyone mulling over coming to watch tomorrow's play should know that entrance to the pretty outground is free.