Suddenly England do not seem so formidable.
The tourists were put under pressure by the New Zealand XI in their tour match in Queenstown yesterday and can expect another thorough examination today.
The home side seized the initiative with a positive declaration and an improved bowling effort, winning all three sessions.
England lead by 333 runs but, with just one wicket in hand, they will have to work hard to avoid defeat.
Black Caps wicketkeeper BJ Watling has been flawless behind the stumps and played a key role in helping get the New Zealand XI into a position to make a declaration.
He scored an undefeated 66 and combined in a damaging 105-run partnership with Northern Districts all-rounder Corey Anderson, who whacked 67 from 62 deliveries.
And the prospect of chasing 350-odd to win the match today was far from daunting, he said.
"It is a pretty good batting track out there," Watling said. "The outfield is quick enough, so hopefully we take the last wicket [early] and look to chase the total down. It is definitely chaseable."
Anderson's wonderful counterattack and Watling's contribution helped New Zealand post 349 for seven declared in reply to England's first innings total of 426.
The bowling attack then got to work. Strike bowler Neil Wagner (two for 56 from 19) was perhaps the most challenging. But Mark Gillespie also kept his chances of playing in the test series alive with a successful stint, taking four for 87 from 16 overs.
Earlier, New Zealand resumed on 224 for six and added 125 runs at about six runs an over and declared 25 minutes before lunch.
England lost four wickets in the afternoon session. But having crashed to 67 for four, the tourists rebounded through Matt Prior's 68 from 76 deliveries. Ian Bell (38) and Graeme Swann (41 not out) added 60 for the ninth-wicket and at stumps England were 256 for nine.