Ducati Xerox rose to the fore during second qualification at Donington Park, with Michel Fabrizio maintaining his overnight advantage heading into Superpole.
With lap times tumbling in the final minutes, Fabrizio left it until his last attempt to deny team-mate Noriyuki Haga the chance to snatch the initiative with the all-important Superpole to come later in the day.
Although several riders got close to Fabrizio's original benchmark, it wasn't until Haga's effort of 1min 30.671secs with twenty minutes remaining on the clock that the timesheets had a different leader.
Title rival Ben Spies slotted in behind too, but neither could do enough to resist Fabrizio, the Italian ending the session more than a tenth quicker than the opposition.
British riders filled positions four to six, with Jonathan Rea leaping up the order compared to his Friday performance to lead the way, ahead of Leon Haslam's Stiggy Honda and Tom Sykes' Yamaha, the latter making big gains in the early stages to show the kind of form that saw him score a wild-card podium last season.
Of this year's wild-card contenders, Leon Camier remained the top representative in 13th, although he failed to improve on his time after crashing at the Craner Curves 25 minutes into the session. He would stay in the pit lane for the remainder of the session.
James Ellison, meanwhile, progresses to Superpole to in 15th, but Simon Andrews' hopes of reaching the top ten were dealt a blow when he could only manage 26th fastest.
Back inside the top ten, Lorenzo Lanzi shrugged off a crash to claim an encouraging seventh for DFX Corse, while Ducati counterpart Gregorio Lavilla followed in eighth. Max Biaggi was ninth for his most convincing showing of the weekend, while Shane Byrne rounded out the top ten.
Of those missing out on the chance to compete again in Superpole, there was ultimate disappointment for Kawasaki, who failed to get one of their six bikes into the shootout. It is the first time Broc Parkes has missed out all season, the Aussie forced to start 22nd instead.
Joining him at the back include Luca Scassa, David Salom, Matthieu Lagrive, Jamie Hacking, Andrews, Alex Polita, newcomer Blake Young, David Checa, Roland Resch and Vittorio Iannuzzo.