Saido Berahino's four-goal blast saved West Brom's blushes as they eventually hammered Gateshead 7-0 to hand Tony Pulis a winning start.
The England Under-21 international took his tally for the season to 13 as the Baggies netted five goals in 13 minutes.
Victor Anichebe, Chris Brunt and James Morrison also scored to ease any worries after Gateshead threatened an upset.
The bright visitors outplayed their hosts for the majority of the first half and John Oster fired their best chance over.
But once Berahino opened the scoring on 43 minutes the result was never in doubt in Pulis' first game since being appointed Albion head coach.
He made four changes as Boaz Myhill, Sebastien Pocognoli, Craig Dawson and Anichebe all started.
Gateshead, 11th in the Vanarama Conference, recalled Andrai Jones, Michael Rankine and Alex Rodman with ex-Everton and Sunderland midfielder Oster in midfield.
And the 36-year-old threatened inside the first four minutes when he fired a 20-yard free kick straight at Myhill.
Berahino blazed over and Rankine, yet to score this season, directed a corner at Myhill as Gateshead held their own.
The visitors were the more inventive and ex-Norwich and Newcastle man Matty Pattison saw a drive gathered by Myhill.
It convinced Pulis to leave the directors' box after just 15 minutes and appear on the touchline to bark orders at his new side.
Albion struggled, were sluggish and allowed Gateshead to dictate the play as they failed to seriously test the visitors' defence.
It would have been a concern for Pulis, which would have grown when Oster wasted a fine opening when he swept over from 12 yards after collecting Pattison's pass on 30 minutes.
The Baggies offered little going forward but took an undeserved lead three minutes before the break.
Stephane Sessegnon was fouled on the edge of the box and Brunt's delivery caused chaos in the Gateshead defence.
Adam Bartlett made a fine stop from Graham Dorrans but Berahino gobbled up the rebound, guiding the ball in from 12 yards.
And it was 2-0 in first-half stoppage time when Berahino found Anichebe, who rolled Ben Clark and fired in across Bartlett.
It was a knockout blow for Gateshead and they started to collapse when Berahino made it 3-0 just 38 seconds into the second half, brilliantly curling into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
The striker then completed his hat-trick when he guided in Chris Baird's cross on 53 minutes and Brunt made it 5-0 two minutes later when he rounded Bartlett.
It could have been worse for the visitors had Bartlett not saved from Anichebe and Berahino but Morrison made it 6-0 with 11 minutes left, tapping in Silvestre Varela's cross at the far post.
The overworked Bartlett tipped Brunt's drive onto the post and turned Georgios Samaras' shot over but Berahino made it 7-0 in stoppage time when he bent in an angled shot from 16-yards.