The pre-season optimism at Corby Town failed to materialise at Steel Park as Vauxhall Motors sealed a 1-0 win on the first day of the Blue Square Bet North campaign.
A 30th-minute header from visiting skipper Tom Hannigan decided the contest as the Steelmen huffed and puffed on a roasting afternoon at Steel Park.
There was plenty of endeavour from Corby but they lacked a cutting edge and when it came to the final ball, the quality just wasn’t there.
It was a tentative start from both sides and Corby, in particular, struggled as the visitors lined up with a five-man defence.
Paul Malone headed wide from a corner and Avelino Vieira nodded over the bar after a good ball in from Ryan Semple.
But Vauxhall looked dangerous on the break and the warning signs were there when Dan Parkinson beat the offside trap and eventually pulled the ball back for Danny Fearnehough who brought a smart save out of Paul Walker.
However, the visitors did break the deadlock on the half-hour and when the goal came, it was all-too simple.
Mike Burns whipped in a corner from the right and Hannigan was unchallenged as he powered his header home.
The Steelmen continued to struggle after that as Vauxhall remained solid and the visitors almost doubled their lead early in the second half when David Thompson knocked the ball past Walker but it ran away from him.
Corby responded with their best attempt of the game when a good run from Greg Kaziboni ended in a low shot that fizzed just wide of the post.
But Vauxhall continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack and Walker had to be at his best to push away James Ellison’s fierce strike.
However, the one goal was all they needed.
Corby forced a few late corners and Vieira saw a late shot deflected wide.
But they never looked like breaking down the resolute visiting defence.
Boss Ian Sampson will now be looking to pick his troops up for the trip to Solihull Moors on Tuesday night.
Steelmen (4-4-2): Walker, Horne, Malone, Briand, Fox; Semple (sub Moreman, 69 mins), Crowe, Wedderburn (sub McGowan, 69 mins), Kaziboni; McKenzie, Vieira. Subs not used: Ives, Webb, Richardson.
Vauxhall Motors (5-3-2): Jones; Noone, Clowes, Hannigan, Nicholas, Dames; Burns (sub Edgerton, 78 mins), Fearnehough, Thompson (sub Rutter, 89 mins); Ellison (sub Mahon, 67 mins), Parkinson. Subs not used: Wainwright, Courtney.
Referee: Rob Ellis.
Goals: Hannigan (30 mins, 0-1).
Bookings: Wedderburn (foul), Burns (deliberate handball).