For an hour in the Norfolk sunshine, the rival left-wingers vied for the honour of being the man of a moderate match; then Southampton's Adam Lallana was withdrawn, leaving the field free for Nathan Redmond, who claimed it seven minutes later with a goal of stunning quality to give Norwich their first Premier League win of the season.
Both teams sent out their record signings, Southampton giving a debut to forward Dani Osvaldo, while £14.5m Ricky van Wolfswinkel led the home line. It was the £3.2m former Birmingham City teenager Redmond who stole the show, however.
In the third minute of an all-action display he cut inside skilfully from the left to fire a low shot just wide, a rehearsal for his scintillating second-half winner. Lallana was the unluckiest player on the field from the moment his 18th-minute shot was blocked with both forearms by Bradley Johnson, who survived the shouts for a penalty; later Lallana's left-foot volley smashed against the post with goalkeeper John Ruddy well beaten. Norwich had a penalty appeal turned down when Van Wolfswinkel's header struck the hand of Jose Fonte five yards out.
Osvaldo brought Ruddy into action twice early in the second half but his bright spell faded, and the alarms sparked Norwich into an attacking fervour.
After crossing for Johan Elmander to head inches too high, Redmond (right) took a crossfield pass from Johnson on his chest, dribbled in at pace from the left wing, bamboozled James Ward-Prowse with a double stepover and hit a shot of impressive power and precision inside the foot of Artur Boruc's near post from the edge of the penalty area.
Five minutes from the end he almost scored an equally eye-catching goal, his pacy run from the halfway line ending with a shot that brought the game's best save from Boruc.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton, while glad to have prised the 19-year-old Redmond from his former club, could not be goaded into overpraising him. "He's a level-headed young man who likes to work hard," Hughton said, before conceding that "at this moment he looks a real bargain".
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino could not say the same of Osvaldo, admitting he "needs time to gel" with Rickie Lambert, and insisting the reported £15m fee had been exaggerated.
Norwich (4-2-3-1): Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Fer, Johnson; Snodgrass, Elmander (Howson, 76), Redmond; Van Wolfswinkel.
Southampton: (4-4-2) Boruc; Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Fox; Schneiderlin (S Davis, 72), Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Lallana (Ramirez, 62); Osvaldo (Rodriguez, 78), Lambert.
Referee Howard Webb
Man of the match: Redmond (Norwich)