Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq took advantage of winning the toss on a placid pitch at Lord's by making his 10th Test century, but Chris Woakes gave England a lift with two late wickets on day one of the four-match series.
All the talk ahead of the match had been over Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir's return to the Test arena, having served a five-year ban for spot-fixing on the same ground six years ago.
It was 42-year-old Misbah (110 not out) who took centre stage in his first Test innings in England on Thursday, though, becoming the oldest batsman since 1929 to score a Test ton as Pakistan closed on 282-6.
The tourists were reduced to 134-4 when debutant Jake Ball (1-51) took his first Test wicket, but had to wait until Woakes ended a 148-run stand by getting rid of Asad Shafiq (73) with three overs to spare and also dismissing nightwatchman Rahat Ali with what proved to be the last ball of the day.
There was talk of Misbah retiring after he led Pakistan to a series victory over Alastair Cook's in the United Arab Emirates last year, but the veteran dropped down to the famous turf to perform press-ups after getting his name on the honours board.
England were in need of early wickets on a gentle track under blue skies and Ball thought he had one when he trapped Shan Masood (7) in front with his second delivery, but a review showed umpire Dharmasena was right not to raise his finger.
James Vince put down a difficult chance to get rid of Mohammad Hafeez at third slip off Broad, but Woakes got rid of both openers to leave Pakistan 76-2 at lunch in great batting conditions.
Paceman Ball, replacing the injured James Anderson, got in on the act by trapping Azhar Ali (7) in front with a rapid yorker and the dangerous Younis Khan (33) looked well set before hitting Broad straight to midwicket.
Joe Root spilled a difficult chance to dismiss Misbah on 16 at second slip and the evergreen right-hander cashed in, biding his time before playing an array of strokes on both sides of the wicket.
Misbah made a century and three half-centuries in the series success against Cook's men last year and tormented the England attack once again, with an out-of-sorts Steven Finn (0-86) and Moeen Ali (0-46) getting the treatment.
Gary Ballance missed a chance to get the breakthrough when he failed with a shy at the stumps when both batsmen ran to the same end
A positive Shafiq played some expansive strokes after a watchful start, while Misbah reached his half-century from 81 balls before upping the run-rate as the England bowlers toiled in the sun.
Misbah swatted Moeen for two sweeps and as many reverse sweeps to the boundary in the same over to move into the 90s and was down on the deck after steering Finn for a single to reach three figures.
Woakes broke a frustrating stand when Shafiq tentatively edged behind and Rahat played on to what proved to be the last ball of a memorable day for Misbah, who hit 18 boundaries and is not finished yet.