Joe Root's second one-day international century helped to give England an obvious chance of avoiding a Royal London Series whitewash against India at Headingley.
Root became the first Yorkshireman to hit an ODI hundred on his home ground, in England's 294 for seven as they seek to stave off a 4-0 scoreline which captain Alastair Cook, in particular, could ill afford.
After India then lost two early wickets to James Anderson, England were arguably favourites to win for the first time since the earliest stages of the series' first completed fixture in Cardiff last week.
Ajinkya Rahane fell in the tamest fashion, pushing an innocuous delivery straight and with no power to point, and then Anderson took Virat Kohli's wicket for the fifth time this summer - neatly caught at slip by Cook - and when Shikhar Dhawan was bowled aiming a sweep at Moeen Ali, India were in trouble on the way to 53 for three after 15 overs.
In Root's career-best 113 from 108 balls, there had been 10 fours and three sixes - his second a slog-sweep off Ravindra Jadeja to go to three figures.
A century stand, England's first of their hugely disappointing series, between Root and Jos Buttler for the fifth wicket was the key to the hosts' innings after they had been put in just as morning cloud cover began to disperse.
Root had to be skilful and composed to play the long game, as very few of England's critics have counselled in recent times, and ensure a target Cook and Co could hope to defend.
On a good pitch, but one which offered plenty of help too to the slow bowlers, England had to contend with 26 overs of spin - an opposition element which has previously stopped them in their tracks for the past two weeks.
It was seam, though, which soon eliminated Alex Hales and then Moeen as their attempts to dominate from the outset came to little.
Opener Hales mistimed a pull high for a simple catch to mid-wicket off Umesh Yadav, and Moeen - pushed up the order to number three in place of Gary Ballance - carved Bhuvneshwar Kumar straight to third man.
Cook had begun with off-side fours off the back foot from only the third and fifth deliveries he faced in Kumar's first over.
He flirted with the slips too, though, twice in his first 23 runs edging aerially through them for four - while Root soon appeared to be relishing the occasion, hitting five boundaries in his first 22 runs.
Cook's luck ran out four short of his 50 when, after the introduction of spin at both ends, his attempted sweep at Suresh Raina looped apologetically into Mahendra Singh Dhoni's gloves.
Eoin Morgan never got started against the turning ball and was stumped as he lurched towards Ravi Ashwin - and in 18 'middle overs' of unbroken spin, England could muster only 66 for two.
Root kept his cool, though, and had power to add alongside Buttler.
They plundered 55 for none in the batting powerplay, including five fours and three sixes - and by the time Buttler ran himself out for 49, England had the basis for a total approaching 300.
Root eventually paddled a catch to short fine-leg off Mohammed Shami, but some late hitting from Ben Stokes carried them close to par at least.