Paul Jewell, having spent all of his summer imploring his players to forget last season, discovered that putting Derby's Premier League nightmare to bed will not be as easy as he might have hoped. Losing habits are hard to break, even against supposedly inferior opponents, and Jewell's team are some way from banishing their negative demeanour.
Jewell wanted an early goal to infuse his reconstructed team with enough confidence to hit the ground running in the Championship and establish themselves as promotion favourites in as short a time as possible.
Instead, they failed to create more than half-chances against a bright, well-drilled and hard-working Doncaster and when they conceded what proved to be the only goal it was clear that the worst Premier League season on record had left a smell of defeat potent enough to infect even a line-up with seven new players.
Jewell, still without a league win in 25 attempts since taking charge last November, knows that it may not be long before his job is under review yet is reluctant to plead for patience.
"If I had taken the job in the summer and put together a new team people would have accepted that it would take time," he said. "Because I was here last season people take a different view and I fully understand that.
"There is a monkey on our backs. Since I have been here we have not won a game. There is only one way to shift that monkey and that is to start to win matches. I do feel that we are only one game away from a decent run and we start on Tuesday, against Lincoln in the Carling Cup."
"But I have every confidence that we'll be all right. I have had three seasons in the Championship as a manager and won two promotions. My record as a manager at this level stands up to scrutiny."
Yet Derby were not good enough on Saturday against a team who were playing two levels below them last season. Promoted Doncaster, with no strangers in their line-up, always looked comfortable, even under pressure.
Not that Sean O'Driscoll, a manager not prone to excessive displays of excitement, was overplaying the result. "We'll only know after 10 games whether this is a good start," he said.
Kris Commons caught the eye among Derby's newcomers but Nathan Ellington and Rob Hulse – regarded by O'Driscoll as potentially the best front two in the division – were well contained by Matt Mills and the outstanding Tim Hird. Lewis Guy, the 22-year-old forward who played just behind James Hayter and Gareth Taylor, scored the decisive goal, set up by Hayter's flick from a low James O'Connor cross.
Goal: Guy (59) 0-1.
Derby County (4-4-2): Carroll; Mears, Albrechtsen, Stubbs (Connolly, 57), McEveley; Pereplotkins (Davies, 65), Green, Kazmierczak (Savage, 54), Commons; Ellington, Hulse. Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Villa.
Doncaster Rovers (4-1-2-1-2): Sullivan; O'Connor, Mills, Hird, Roberts; Stock; Coppinger (Van Nieuwstadt 88), Wellens; Guy (Chambers ,73); Hayter (Woods, 85), Taylor. Substitutes not used: Spicer, Elliott.
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).
Booked: Doncaster Stock, Taylor.
Man of the match: Hird.