The welcome to the Premiership could hardly have been more brutal for promoted Wolves. Tormented at first by Brett Emerton, the Australian who made his Blackburn debut after a suspension he brought with him from Feyenoord was overturned, they were ultimately torn apart by the superb Tugay Kerimoglu's creative dominance of midfield and finished off mercilessly by Andy Cole, who came on to score twice in the last 11 minutes.
Against a Rovers side who will be competing in Europe this season, the first steps in the top flight were always going to be difficult for the newcomers, although they cannot have anticipated this kind of hiding. As Graeme Souness, the Blackburn manager, pointed out, "the Premiership is a cruel league."
That was a view with which David Jones, his Wolves counterpart, could not argue. "One result is not the be-all and end-all but I think this has catapulted some of our players into knowing that they will have to be at their best in every game at this level," he said. "We'll take lessons from this but we'll need to learn them quickly."
Missing Kenny Miller, Mark Kennedy and Jolean Lescott, to whom Jones referred as "key players", they looked overawed. Nervous in defence, tentative in midfield, where the newly-signed Portuguese winger Silas was almost invisible, they trailed by two goals inside the opening half-hour as Blackburn sensed their unease.
Lorenzo Amoruso, the Italian defender signed from Rangers in the summer, struck the first blow, heading home powerfully at the near post from an Emerton corner, and the lead was doubled when David Thompson played a one-two with Matt Jansen and fired the ball sweetly out of the reach of goalkeeper Matt Murray.
Emerton had made an outstanding start, helping to provide the width Blackburn feared they might lack after the sale of Damien Duff. He showed he could finish, too, with a high-quality strike for his side's critical third goal.
The groans of frustration from the Wolves bench were almost audible when new signing Steffen Iversen's dreadful first touch wasted their best chance five minutes into the second half. Moments later, the contest was effectively over as Emerton opened his account. Again, Wolves were punished for poor covering as possession was lost in central midfield. Tugay delivered a pass to Dwight Yorke on the edge of the penalty area, the former Manchester United striker cleverly leaving the ball for the Australian to deliver an angled shot that gave Murray no chance.
Iversen made up in part for his error with 19 minutes left, smashing home a close-range rebound after his own header had struck a post, but Blackburn were not done, Tugay and substitute Cole combining twice to complete a torrid afternoon for the First Division play-off winners. The Turkish international supplied the telling pass on each occasion as Cole first beat Murray with a stinging left-foot shot from 10 yards and then chipped him from 20 after Tugay had delivered a superbly-weighted ball over the top.
Blackburn Rovers 5
Amoruso 17, Thompson 29, Emerton 52, Cole 79, 87
Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 26,270Reuse content