Ryan Sidebottom tore through Kent’s top order to put Notts in a strong position heading into day two at Trent Bridge.
The England seamer dismissed Joe Denly with his first ball and finished the day with 3-8 to show that he is ready to lead the attack against New Zealand next week.
Charlie Shreck caught Martin van Jaarsveld leg before to leave Kent on 33-4 at close of play, chasing Notts’ total of 202.
Mark Wagh survived two dropped catches to reach 42 while Adam Voges (43) and Samit Patel (39) made good contributions.
“The ball swung a bit but I think the pitch deserved a better score than we achieved,” said Notts Director of Cricket Mick Newell.
“Mark Wagh played well but it’s disappointing that no one went on and made a big score.
“Charlie and Ryan will be very important to us tomorrow and we’ve got Stuart Broad and Mark Ealham to follow-up and they have a big role to play because it looks like being a low-scoring game.”
Martin Saggers had Notts openers Will Jefferson and Matt Wood caught at slip but the fight back from the bowlers may yet save their blushes.