Jack Leach admitted England came up short of their target with the bat against New Zealand but he was heartened by an apparently deteriorating pitch at Bay Oval.
The left-armer was the not-out batsman as England were dismissed for 353, having at one stage been 277-4 in the first of two Tests.
England made strong headway with the ball as the Black Caps were reduced to 144-4, with the key wicket of captain Kane Williamson for 51 providing a boost for the tourists late in the day.
It was the nature of that dismissal, brought about by Sam Curran's viciously bouncing length delivery, that offered added encouragement to Leach.
"The ball from Sam Curran to get Kane Williamson misbehaved and that's a good sign when you've got runs on the board," said Leach, who accounted for opener Jeet Raval.
"We would have liked to have got more runs, we were aiming for at least 400.
"We wanted that big score and we wanted a century in there and that's something we're working hard to do.
"Hopefully that'll come in the second innings."
Tim Southee, who posted figures of 4-88, conceded the loss of talisman Williamson with the close of the day's play in sight was a bitter pill to swallow, but he was pleased to have limited the damage England could do in their first innings.
"It would have been nice to be three down but we've still got batting to come," he said.
"I thought we bowled well [on Thursday] and we got our rewards for that now. We would have taken 6-112 at the start of the day."