The Queensland Bulls have put aside their indifferent start to the season to take the honours on the opening day of their JLT SHeffeld Shield  agtch against competition front-runners Victoria at the Gabba.

In his first game back from injury, Bulls captain Usman Khawaja won the toss and promptly opted to have first use of a green-flecked, but firm pitch, under cloudy skies.

It was confidence that was quickly reciprocated when pace spearhead Michael Neser removed Victorian opener Travis Dean with an inswinger that darted wickedly to clip his off stump from the fourth ball of the day.

That meant Test opening contender Aaron Finch ended up filling the role at the top of the order that some pundits had vocally expressed he should have been filling for Victoria at the start.

It meant little in the immediate context, with fellow Test top order selection Marcus Harris also making a brief visit before he was removed by Luke Feldman to a sharp catch from Joe Burns at first slip.

That brought another Australian batting hopeful to the crease with Peter Handscomb calmly joining Finch to stop the immediate rot for the Shield leaders.

They went to lunch relatively untroubled, and continued after the break, putting on 116 for the third wicket before the Bulls roared back.

Victoria lost 8-45 to be routed for 167 early in the final session despite Handscomb staking his Test claim with a gritty 81 and Finch striking 50 batting at No.3.

They were the only Victorian batsmen to reach double figures though.

Neser (3-39) did the early damage before Mark Steketee rebounded from an erratic start to clean up the tail on the way to a fine haul of 4-52. Allrounder Jack Wildermuth provided valuable assistance as well, finishing with 0-19 from 11 overs as he helped build dot-ball pressure on the middle and lower order.

The Bulls weathered the early loss of Matt Renshaw, with Burns and Khawaja taking a liking to the batting conditions to cruise to 111 before Khawaja tickled a faint edge down the leg-side from Chris Tremain.

He and Burns, who motored to 71 not out, put on 108 for the second wicket and set the Bulls on track to reach 2-120 at stumps.