Robbie Fowler scored an extra-special goal to get his season off on the right foot, but it was the same old Manchester City as they threw away the initiative and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Fulham.
City's new stadium was full again with hope and pride and City started off so well with Fowler - so often a failure in front of goal last season - grabbing a superb goal to put his side ahead and purring.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was an outstanding bundle of tricks and City ran Fulham ragged for much of the first hour.
Then Fulham got a grip, started to compete all over the park and claimed a rather fortunate strike from Collins John that deflected fractionally off new-boy Danny Mills.
From then on it was anybody's game as City played on the nerves of their fans again, and were grateful for a point.
Kevin Keegan gave debuts to Ben Thatcher and Danny Mills, while Fulham chief Chris Coleman was able to do the same with his new summer signings Tomasz Radzinski, Andy Cole, Papa Bouba Diop and Claus Jensen.
But it was player all City fans pray is not on the move soon who stole the show. The Eastlands faithful left no-one in any doubt about their feelings over Wright-Phillips' future, with the youngster still not agreeing a new contract and various potential buyers hovering.
The midfielder was given a standing ovation as soon as he stepped onto the pitch, and almost set up a goal inside two minutes after racing from his own box, holding off three men on the way before firing in a fierce low cross that Moritz Volz desperately hacked behind. Cue another standing ovation from the Eastlands faithful.
Then Wright-Phillips' astute pass put Nicolas Anelka in on the right, but his low cross drifted unhindered across the face of a gaping goal. The England prospect tormented any Fulham defender who came close and constantly had the home fans on their feet.
But the pressure and possession did not produce early goals and City looked to be back into the same groove as last season -plenty of chances but wasteful.
Then it was a recipe for a relegation fight. A packed City of Manchester Stadium will be praying for something better this time around.
But City eventually got the goal their attacking play deserved when on 28 minutes Fowler struck with a peach of an effort.
Mills' long throw was flicked on in the box by Antoine Sibierski and Fowler had plenty to do with the ball dropping over his head. But he managed to execute a hook shot over his shoulder that soared into the top corner with Edwin Van der Sar clutching thin air.
Fulham employed Radzinski largely on the left and John on the right with Cole a lone striker through the middle, and it left him isolated against two defenders.
His frustration got the better of him when he followed through high into Reyna's ankle as the American cleared, and referee Matt Messias produced a yellow card. Wright-Phillips started the second period intent on demoralising Fulham in the air, too. He climbed above the giants all around him and planted a header just wide from Sibierski's chipped cross.
But just as Fulham were starting to reel under the pressure of Anelka's running power and Wright-Phillips' trickery, they found themselves level. Once again lack of concentration was the cause in a City rearguard not known for staying awake for a full 90 minutes.
Jensen's ball sailed in from the right, it was missed by a clutch of players and dropped for John, who was allowed too much time to turn and managed a half-hit shot that flicked Mills and left David James stranded.
Fulham had made use of their own hi-tech video equipment at the break, which allowed them to watch specific incidents over their cup of tea. Boss Chris Coleman had certainly seen enough room for improvement from a first half of sloppy work.
If little else, they were pressing City properly, reducing their time and space and it was now a much more even contest.
Van der Sar kept Fulham in the game with a superb reflex save with his feet from point-blank range after Sibierski produced a diving header from Reyna's free-kick, but James soon had to match that when Jensen was clear and the England keeper got a faint touch to turn the shot wide.
Then Sibierski took a neat touch from Macken to stride on and drill a low 20-yard shot inches wide. City were desperately trying to regain the almost total control they had enjoyed for most of the first hour but Fulham were very dangerous on the break against what was now an exposed back four.
Wright-Phillips had faded from the scene and the flow of decent ball into Anelka had also diminished. The same old tensions were rippling around this magnificent stadium, echoing all the bad old times from Maine Road.