Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott recovered impressively after England lost captain Andrew Strauss for a duck in the first over of the much-anticipated Investec Test series against South Africa.
Strauss lasted only four balls of a cloudy morning, which saw him choose to bat first after play was delayed for 15 minutes by an untimely shower at the Kia Oval.
But Cook (69no) and Trott (68no) then took over to bat for two sessions, almost in their entirety, in an unbroken stand of 158 - the second-wicket pair rarely troubled by South Africa's much-hyped attack.
World number one fast bowler Dale Steyn was off the pitch for treatment to an apparent ankle injury during a much brighter afternoon, but still got through 13 overs to no avail by teatime.
England's day could hardly have started any worse when Strauss was lbw to Morne Morkel, via DRS. It took some courage, as well as good judgment, to risk a review so early in proceedings - after umpire Steve Davis had turned down Morkel's lbw appeal against the left-hander from round the wicket.
Hawkeye simulated a straightening of the angle and leg-and-middle impact, and England were under significant pressure without a run on the board.
It was to England's advantage that the remainder of the early skirmishes were less eventful, Trott and Cook getting set in awkward conditions under floodlights.
Cook and Trott patiently waited for their scoring opportunities, both picking up boundaries across the never-ending Oval square when the South Africa pace attack dropped too short.
For good measure, Cook also counted six with a mis-hook at Steyn into the stand at long-leg - only the sixth six of the opener's Test career.
In mid-afternoon, he pulled leg-spinner Imran Tahir for his seventh four to complete a 98-ball half-century - a milestone Trott was to reach from 127 deliveries, with just six boundaries.