FC UNITED began life in the UniBond League premier division with a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Matlock Town.
A crowd of 2,343 – up on last season's average – watched as the Derbyshire club's centre forward Ross Hannah put the Gladiators one up after just eight minutes with a beautifully-judged chip over home keeper Sam Ashton.
But the Rebels, who were rocked in the summer by the departure of four key players, fought back well and one of their newcomers put them ahead with two goals in three minutes.
Striker Kyle Wilson confidently dispatched a 17th minute penalty after Jamie Baguley had been fouled in the box, and with the fans still celebrating he outpaced the defence to reach a loose ball and score the second.
Matlock, who finished 16th at this level last season, were level five minutes before half time as Hannah again found a way through a dozing defence which has been shorn of stalwart Rob Nugent for the opening weeks.
It looked like the visitors had nicked the points when Dene Cropper headed home their third after 69 minutes.
But boss Karl Marginson's substitutions did the trick, with tall, elegant midfielder Dave Neville central in a terrific passing move which finally released another of the replacements, Chris Baguley, for a neat near-post finish with a minute of normal time remaining.