Not even a sublime strike from Nicky Deverdics could prevent Dover Athletic from starting their Vanarama National League campaign with a 2-1 loss at Barrow AFC on Saturday.
Deverdics gave Whites an 18th-minute lead through a stunning 20-yarder before the Bluebirds, who won promotion last season, replied twice before half-time to ensure Dover made the long trip home empty-handed.
It was a game Dover should have won given their dominance in it.
Boss Chris Kinnear's side started brightly and had an appeal for a penalty waved away in the fourth minute after Ricky Miller went down following an impressive run from just inside the Barrow half.
Richard Orlu headed Tom Murphy's free-kick over before Kinnear's side really should have scored.
Miller, who was proving to be a right handful, pounced on a shocking back pass and it needed a brave block from former Sunderland goalkeeper Joel Dixon to deny him. The rebound fell kindly for Stefan Payne who shot narrowly wide.
The Dover pressure finally paid off in the 18th minute when Deverdics curled home Murphy's pin-point cross from outside the box in stunning fashion.
Miller went agonisingly close to making it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when he beat Dixon only to see Barrow captain Simon Grand produce a magnificent goalline clearance.
Dover were bossing the game and it was against the run of play when Barrow got back on level terms in the 24th minute. Sean Raggett hesitated, allowing the ball to bounce following a harmless long ball, and Andy Cook pounced to slot past Mitch Walker.
But Whites were soon back on attack with Deverdics having a free-kick saved by Dixon before he volleyed just over moments later.
Although Dover were doing all the pressing, it was Barrow who found the back of the net again in the 34th minute. And it was that man Cook who did it after side-footing Danny Pilkington's cross beyond Walker and that's the way it stayed until half-time.
Dover went close to scoring first after the break when Murphy lobbed just over in the 58th minute with the goalkeeper out of position.
Miller thought he had equalised five minutes later after he tapped home after Murphy's free-kick had been fumbled by the keeper, but his joy was short-lived when he was ruled offside.
Sam Magri limped off in the 70th minute and was replaced by debutant Matt Young at right-back but there was to be no coming back for Whites.
Dover: Walker, Magri (Young 70mins), Sterling, Grimes, Raggett, Orlu, Deverdics, Bellamy, Payne, Miller (Ofari-Achaempong 79mins), Murphy (Modeste 76mins). Subs not used: Parkinson, Wynter. Attendance: 2,285.