A breathless, end-to-end encounter between defending champions Chennaiyin FC and Delhi Dynamos at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was decided in a manic first half, as the visitors eventually ran away 3-1 winners to begin their ISL campaign on a high.
No ISL match in Chennai has ever ended goalless, and from the second Delhi's defence gave the ball away to allow right-back Baljit Sahni a shot at goal in the second minute, one could sense that record would remain intact.
Chennaiyin went into the game with the meanest defence -- they conceded just 19 goals last year -- but with John Arne Riise partnering Bernard Mendy in an unfamiliar centre-back position, and goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr exuding the composure of a sleepwalker, it was open season on their goal.
Coach Marco Materazzi could not plug the leak at the back, and Delhi capitalised, as a brace from Marcelo Pereira and a late strike from Badara Badji trumped Dudu Omagbemi's first-half equalizer.
Delhi were far from solid at the back themselves, but after withstanding an early storm from Chennai, they did enough to see off the game. Clearly unhappy with how open his team was in the first half, Delhi's manager Gianluca Zambrotta shored up the midfield for the second period, with Marcos Tebar expertly screening the defence, allowing the attacking trio of Richard Gadze, Marcelo and Kean Lewis to play on the counter.
Chennai ran out of gas near the 70-minute mark, and for all their sterile possession, they failed to muster one clear-cut opportunity in the second half.
The hosts will look back at plenty of moments, particularly in the first half, with regret. They will rue not making their early dominance count, as Dudu and Jeje Lalpekhlua both spurned good chances in the opening 10 minutes.
They will rue their porous midfield, with Raphael Augusto and Hans Mulder both failing to stamp their authority on the game, allowing Delhi's strikers to just pass them by.
They will rue their calamitous effort at the back, particularly from Riise and Mendy, who made a hash of easy clearances and were constantly on the back foot.
But most of all they will feel let down by inept goalkeeping from Kerr, whose shaky performance gave Delhi the impetus to charge forward and attack at will.
Kerr's first howler arrived in the 17th minute when, with the ball at his feet, he was chased down by Lewis and passed straight at the opposing striker, though Lewis was unable to take advantage. Moments later, Kerr failed to collect a simple deflection, allowing the ball to trickle out for a corner.
By then the momentum had shifted completely Delhi's way, who also had a goal from Gadze ruled out for offside.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 25th minute. Tebar floated an inch-perfect pass to the path of Milan Singh, who was brought down by an onrushing Kerr.
The referee promptly pointed to the spot, and Marcelo stepped up, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Chennai immediately bounced back though. In the 32nd minute Jeje picked up a loose ball in midfield and fed Dudu through on goal. Dudu's shot was straight at Toni Doblas, but had enough power in it to squirm beneath the keeper and into the net.
However, two minutes later, Chennai's midfield and defence were caught napping again; Gadze had all the time in the world to thread the needle, and Marcelo, making a smart run between the lines, hit first time to slot the ball into the bottom corner.
That goal, right before half-time, deflated the hosts, who spent the rest of the match chasing shadows and relying on opportunistic throw-ins for a glimpse at goal. Delhi could have been out of sight before the break, had it not been for poor finishing from Marcelo and Lewis, who were time and again put through on goal.
Delhi, who left both Florent Malouda and Bruno Pelisarri out of their XI, found more freedom going forward in the second half, and sealed the game in the 83rd minute.
With a giant hole gaping in Chennai's midfield -- the hosts brought off Augusto in place of striker Davide Succi -- Delhi broke forward in numbers, and Lewis chipped in a cross from the left, which was deftly nodded into the net by the substitute Badji.
The defeat leaves Chennai with just one point from their first two games, while the victory moves Delhi up to third in the table.