Nagoya Grampus eased past Andres Iniesta-less Vissel Kobe 2-0 at home in their J-League opener on Saturday, with the 2021 League Cup champions getting a winning start under new manager Kenta Hasegawa.
New captain Sho Inagaki, who bagged eight goals from midfield last term, continued his fine scoring form before an own goal and a red card for the visitors saw the home side run away comfortably at Toyota Stadium.
After finishing fifth last term under Massimo Ficcadenti, Grampus welcomed the 2014 Gamba Osaka domestic treble-winning manager Hasegawa from FC Tokyo, and their aggressive display left him smiling.
"We were sloppy in the first 20 minutes but the result should see us settled for the next game," said the 56-year-old. "We were looking for fast breaks rather than counters. That's the most effective against any side and we executed them well."
Nagoya got the opener in the 23rd minute when Mateus dispossessed Reo Osaki near the Kobe backline and played Noriyoshi Sakai to his left. A cross was met by a Keiya Sento header, which was blocked on the line but Inagaki reacted the quickest to smack home.
Former Japan defender Tomoaki Makino, having left Urawa Reds after a decade, sent two headers wide from corners in his first appearance for Kobe in the visitors' only real chances. Nagoya were handed the second when Kobe's other former Japan defender, Gotoku Sakai, sliced a Mateus cross from the left into his own net six minutes after the break.
Nagoya, remaining tight at the back after setting a J1 record of 21 clean sheets last year, constantly threatened on the break and the visitors went a man down seven minutes later, former Nagoya player Takahiro Ogihara given a straight red for bringing down Sakai's younger brother Gotoku, when he was through on goal.
"It was good to win the first game under Kenta, and at home," Inagaki said. "We're trying to be more aggressive both offensively and defensively, building on from past years, and we've shown glimpses of that today."
Elsewhere, Emperor's Cup winners Urawa Reds, winners of last weekend's Super Cup, suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Kyoto Sanga. Peter Utaka slotted in the 49th-minute winner on their first return to J1 since 2010.
Last year's runners-up, Yokohama F Marinos, were held to a 2-2 home draw by Cerezo Osaka, former Sevilla man Hiroshi Kiyotake scoring the visitors' 90th-minute header.
Kashima Antlers, fourth last term, won 3-1 away to 10-man Gamba Osaka as Ayase Ueda hit a brace. Promoted Jubilo Iwata drew 1-1 at Avispa Fukuoka thanks to a 93rd-minute strike from Ryo Germain.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Sagan Tosu played out a goalless draw, while Shimizu S-Pulse were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Consadole Sapporo. Kashiwa Reysol won 2-0 away to Shonan Bellmare.