On a day in which batting was never simple, Derbyshire ended it 45 runs ahead with five wickets in hand, after fifteen fell in total.
That they are in a position of some control, albeit with work still to do, is down to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, whose masterful unbeaten 66 was the kind of innings you hope your overseas player will play for you when the chips are down, especially after your bowlers have done everything that could have been asked of them.
Praise is due to Wayne Madsen too, for battling away for thirty runs that were worth far more on other days, while Wes Durston opted for a more cavalier approach that worked fairly well before he gave routine slip-catching practice.
After the start given to them by Groenewald and Footitt, Derbyshire will be looking for a three-figure lead tomorrow as a bare minimum. Whether the wicket eases is going to be a moot point, but it is hard to believe that Essex could bat as badly again, irrespective of the quality of the Derbyshire bowling.
The key word for the day appeared to be discipline, with only three extras conceded in 37 overs. Tim Groenewald showed what a fine county bowler he is with his five wickets and hat trick, while it was interesting to read a correspondent on Cricinfo suggest there wasn't much between the pace of Footitt and that of Mitchell Johnson. All of which must have made Alastair Cook feel he was still in the middle of a very bad dream.
5-29 in nearly fifteen overs is high-quality bowling and doing it against the current England skipper was excellent timing by Footitt. One accusation that could be levelled at the current national side's attack is that it is very similar in pace and angle. The need for a left-arm quick of quality is considerable and Footitt, Tymal Mills and Harry Gurney of Nottinghamshire must all come under consideration as the summer progresses.
As for tomorrow, we need more of the same from Shiv and if he stays in until mid-afternoon and gets support from the lower order, the chances are that we will have built a match-winning total. I find it hard to believe that this will roll out to replicate the halcyon days of Taunton in high summer, so a decent lead and steady accumulation will be the order of the day tomorrow.
There's a long way to go, but if you'd offered us all this score last night we'd have slept nice and soundly.
Excellent effort by the boys - more of the same tomorrow, please!
Postscript - I enjoyed Iain O'Brien's commentary today. Another very promising start...