Never back a favourite, as Plymouth showed yesterday. Having been run ragged in the first half by the team fancied to go up, the Pilgrims took advantage of a slip in concentration for Luke Summerfield to sneak in and score the winner.
It was probably more than Peter Reid deserved in his first League game in charge of Plymouth, because in the 46 minutes prior to the goal they had shown little enterprise and gave Southampton too much respect.
In fact it was only Dean Hammond's lack of accuracy with his headers that prevented Southampton from going at least two goals to the good before the break.
In a League that has seen Norwich and Leeds fly the coop, Southampton are now the team to beat. Last year's squad, which was hampered by a 10-point deduction but still finished just seven points outside the play-offs, has been bolstered by the arrival of Danny Butterfield and Frazer Richardson.
Plymouth by contrast were forced to sell the midfielder Damien Johnson to Huddersfield on Friday. Surely, then, Reid's motivational methods count for something.
Summerfield said: "It wasn't good enough in the first half and the gaffer let us know about it. But we came out raring to go and we managed to get the three points, which is massive for us."
Reid added: "For 45 minutes Southampton were decidedly the better team. But we had a chat at half-time and we got back to basics. In the second half they did particularly well. Even though we didn't play well in the first half we were dogged."
After Rory Fallon and Steven MacLean had combined to set up Summerfield for his first goal in over a year, Anton Peter-lin went close to doubling the visitors' lead.
The Southampton substitute Adam Lallana was then kept out by a superb one-handed David Button save and Jason Puncheon squandered two late chances for the home side.
Southampton's manager, Alan Pardew, said: "We probably got beaten because of the start of the second half. They'd had a rally-up and it cost us a goal. But it is only the first game."Reuse content