Finals day at Lord's on agenda for Gale's Yorkshire
Carnegie, who top the County Championship, maintained their 100 per cent record in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition with an eight-wicket demolition of Middlesex.
A fifth win in as many outings means Andrew Gale's men are one point clear of second-placed Essex at the top of Group B with a game in hand and handily placed to qualify for the semi-finals.
Yesterday's win at Lord's may have been, thanks to the crazy scheduling of the 2010 fixture list, the White Rose county's first outing in the 40-over form of the game since May 15.
But Yorkshire showed no signs of being ring-rusty with an inspired display that saw Ajmal Shahzad mark his selection for the England Test squad with a four-wicket haul.
Jacques Rudolph then ensured the good work of the Huddersfield-born 24-year-old, who Middlesex had tried to sign during last winter, did not go to waste by hitting an unbeaten 86 to help clinch victory with 18 balls to spare.
Captain Gale said: "It was a good all-round performance. The wicket was slow and a bit two-paced at times, so we knew if we bowled well it would be difficult to score."
Asked if he had a target of wins required to seal a place in the last four, Gale added: "It is too early to say, but if we get two more this week (against Gloucestershire and Holland) then we will be in a great position.
"It was a great feeling to walk out at Lord's and we would love to come back here in two months time (for the CB40 final on September 18)."
Yorkshire not having a County Championship game in the coming week meant Shahzad was able to play despite being picked for the Test squad, whereas the hosts were denied the use of Andrew Strauss, Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan.
Middlesex, and Scott Newman in particular, were left to rue that anomaly within eight balls of their innings getting underway after Neil Dexter had called correctly at the toss, Shahzad tempting an edge from the opener into the gloves of Jonathan Bairstow.
Worse was to follow for the Panthers in the seventh over when Dexter, who up until then had looked in promising form by cracking five well-timed boundaries, gave his wicket away cheaply with an awful shot off Tim Bresnan that presented Steve Patterson with a simple catch at mid-off.
Bresnan, racing in from the Nursery End, clearly had a point to prove after his surprise omission from the England Test squad just a few hours earlier.
His second wicket of the afternoon came from the fifth of a six-over spell that yielded commendable figures of 2-18.
Owais Shah was the unfortunate batsman, the one-time England man being caught unawares by a rising delivery from Bresnan that he could only flick into the gloves of Bairstow.
At 38-3, Middlesex were clearly in need of a stabilising partnership and it came in the form of a 61-run stand between Dawid Malan and Gareth Berg.
They were together for 15.4 overs, but even during that time Yorkshire remained in overall control by preventing the Panthers from hitting a boundary for 10 overs. David Wainwright was the man to break up the budding partnership, tempting Malan into a rash attempt to hit him over the top as Richard Pyrah took the catch.
Having made the breakthrough, Carnegie then maintained the pressure as Adil Rashid had John Simpson caught behind by Bairstow before Berg's knock of 40 was brought to an end by a mis-timed sweep off Wainwright that Gale caught comfortably.
Tom Scollay, making his first competitive appearance for Middlesex, offered some late resistance for the home side by hitting 32 from 18 deliveries before being bowled by Shahzad, who also claimed the wickets of Tom Smith and Shaun Udal in the final over as Middlesex finished on 183-9.
The suspicion was that Middlesex had finished 40 or so runs short of a defendable total and so it proved as Gale and Rudolph once again gave Yorkshire a solid start with a fourth 50-plus opening stand in five games of 40-over cricket this season.
Middlesex did eventually split the pair when Gale was stumped by Simpson on 39 before Adam Lyth was out on 34 offering a simple return catch to Pedro Collins.
There was, however, to be no way of de-railing Yorkshire's push for victory to ensure that a sizeable contingent from the Broad Acres left Lord's with a spring in their step despite the prospect of an extra 20-minute walk caused by the closure of nearby St Johns Wood tube station.