A green-tinged pitch offering some bounce and lateral movement saw Championship leaders Yorkshire bowled out for 162 after winning the toss at Scarborough.
But third-placed Durham struggled just as much against the title-holders and, in turn, were sent packing for 156.
On a day of high drama in which 20 wickets toppled and 328 runs were scored, Yorkshire closed on ten without loss in their second innings.
A first defeat of the season for Yorkshire would not be disastrous, as they went into the game with a 34 point lead and a game in hand over Warwickshire, but it would give them food for thought. A win, however, would bring a sixth consecutive victory.
This was the first time since the end of May last year that they had failed to get a batting bonus point and their final score would have been much lower but for a spirited last wicket stand of 67, the highest of the day, between Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom.
A 5,300 crowd, basking in the seaside sunshine, did not have to wait long for the non-stop action to begin, Andy Hodd falling lbw to Jamie Harrison in the fourth over and quickly being followed back to the pavilion by Alex Lees who chopped Chris Rushworth into his stumps.
Andrew Gale, Jack Leaning and Garry Ballance all gave slip catches off indeterminate shots to leave Yorkshire on 54 for five and there was a brief recovery as Glenn Maxwell moved smartly into the 30s with some firm strokes.
But on 36 he swung wildly at a short leg-side ball from Graham Onions and gloved a catch to Michael Richardson to make it 91 for six and three runs later, in the last over before lunch, Adil Rashid edged a drive at Onions to 18-year-old Jack Burnham who found himself making his debut after Paul Collingwood had stood down with back muscle spasms.
In the first full over after the interval, Rushworth induced edges off consecutive deliveries to Liam Plunkett and Steven Patterson as Yorkshire dipped to 95 for nine, but Bresnan and Sidebottom showed that survival was possible by getting behind the ball while at the same time going for their shots.
Bresnan survived a head-high two-handed chance to Scott Borthwick at second slip on 41 and when he had reached 47 he was bowling by an in-swinger from John Hastings, having faced 54 balls and striking eight boundaries.
The last wicket stand of 67 was identical to the one made two days earlier on the ground for the tenth wicket by Karl Carver and Matthew Fisher in the RL 50 Overs Cup defeat at the hands of Somerset.
Rushworth was the chief wicket-taker with 4-37 to move his tally on to 66 in the Championship this season.
Mark Stoneman and Graham Clark made a promising start for Durham before three wickets fell in seven balls with the score on 29. Clark, slashing at Bresnan, sliced a catch to Ballance at point, and Stoneman uncharacteristically swung wildly at Patterson to be well caught low down by Bresnan at long leg. Gordon Muchall was lbw first ball and Patterson would have completed a hat-trick if a loud appeal against Richardson had not been rejected.
Soon after tea, Patterson captured a third wicket as Richardson’s inside edge was brilliantly caught by Hodd diving to his left and there was no beginner’s luck for Burnham who was bowled fourth ball by Plunkett with the best delivery of the day.
Borthwick defended diligently until moving into his stumps to be lbw to Sidebottom and it would have been 105 for seven if Bresnan had been able to cling on to a fast and difficult chance in the slips offered by Hastings who did not survive much longer, being caught at first slip by Lees off Sidebottom.
Rashid entered the attack with the long day’s first spin to trap Harrison lbw without scoring but Ryan Pringle continued to attack and drove Rashid high over long on for six.
The game remained fast and furious, Pringle falling for 40 to a well-judged catch at deep backward square leg off Sidebottom who closed the innings by having Rushworth caught at third slip by Maxwell, the left-armer emerging with figures of four for 44.