Huddersfield's new Dutch goalkeeper Nico Vaesen, for example, enjoyed only 11 minutes of his first taste of the English game in the Nationwide First Division at Bury before the referee gave him his first sight of an English red card for handling outside his area. A goal by Tony Ellis gave Bury the points.
Vaesen was not the first. That dishonour fell to Northampton's Colin Hill, whose professional foul left Graham Kavanagh to put Stoke ahead from the penalty spot after his departure. Carlo Corrazin equalised but Peter Thorne and Dean Crowe gave Stoke a 3-1 victory.
The honour of scoring the first goal fell to Andy Payton, who gave Burnley's season a rousing start after only 67 seconds against Bristol Rovers at Turf Moor. He scored again after Jamie Cureton's equaliser to give Burnley a 2-1 win. And David Hanson opened Halifax's renewed League account just after half-time at Peterborough. A second from Geoff Horsfield made the points safe.
Of those with lofty ambitions, Wolves had reason to be satisfied with their first day's work. A 2-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers, with goals from Robbie Keane and Keith Curle, should have sent the faithful home from Molineux happy enough to start dreaming about the Premiership again.
Keane, playing in attack, scored after 20 minutes when he turned in Simon Muscat's cross at the second attempt, but possibly the decisive moment came midway through the second half when Tranmere's Clint Hill was sent off after fouling Keane. Curle's goal came from a penalty two minutes from time that incensed Tranmere's manager John Aldridge. He threw a water bottle in frustration and it bounced towards a linesman. The referee Paul Taylor sent him from the bench but without showing him a red card.
Their Midlands rivals Birmingham City carried their fine pre-season friendly form into the real thing with a 2-0 victory at Port Vale. Paul Furlong, later to limp off with a hamstring injury, had gone close before he finished off a free-kick move on the edge of the penalty area with a left-foot shot inside the post after 21 minutes. Birmingham's superiority was underlined midway through the second half when Dele Adebola scored the second.
Norwich City, now under Bruce Rioch's guidance after a disappointing end to last season, opened with a 2-1 home win over Crewe with the goals coming in a six-minute spell late in the first half. Craig Bellamy and Darren Denton appeared to put the Canaries in command with goals after 31 and 35 minutes, but Crewe struck straight back in the 36th through Mark Rivers.
John Ward, the manager of promoted Bristol City, was rewarded for preferring his pounds 410,000 signing Soren Andersen to a pounds 1m buy, Tony Thorpe. Andersen scored twice after Matt Murphy had put Oxford ahead, but the Dane was deprived of a win bonus by Dean Windass, the visitors' pounds 450,000 acquisition from Aberdeen.
Jon Salako spoiled Macclesfield's first outing in the Second Division by scoring the only goal of Fulham's victory at Moss Rose, but when it comes to spiking bubbles of hope and ambition, Southend take the prize.
Scarborough have been taken over by the millionaire businessman Anton Johnson, who was once in charge of Rotherham before switching to Southend. He has bought a 51 per cent holding in Boro for an undisclosed sum.
Their day started well with Stephen Brodie putting them ahead, but then the side who Johnson once rooted for struck back, with goals by Simon Coleman and Julian Hails giving them the points.Reuse content