Ben Duckett and Matthew Spriegel found some early-season batting form as Northamptonshire slipped to a 39-run defeat in their Second XI Trophy opener against Middlesex at Radlett.
Duckett hit 68 from 78 deliveries and Spriegel 58 off 72 balls, sharing an impressive third-wicket stand worth 124 as the County rallied from early trouble at 14-2 in reply to the home side's formidable 282-3.
But Northamptonshire came up short on 243 all out with nine balls of their 40 overs remaining - boosted late on by a hard-hitting 52 from Leeds/Bradford MCCU batsman Richard Moore.
Middlesex took full advantage of winning the toss and choosing to bat first. Adam Rossington (107) led the way, with Irishman Paul Stirling contributing 65 to lay the foundations for a big score.
Mohammad Azharullah picked up 2-45 from seven overs, the other wicket falling to Con de Lange (1-23 from five).
The two sides begin a three-day Championship match at the same ground on Wednesday.