Nathan Austin struck twice as Caley Thistle opened their Betfred Cup account with a 2-0 win over Cove Rangers.
Austin was presented with two relatively easy finishes towards the end of the first half and it was enough to see off the Highland League champions.
John Sheran’s side gave a spirited showing and created chances of their own but were unable to breach the Scottish Championship side’s rearguard.
Caley Thistle handed a debut to Shaun Rooney, with fellow new signings Jamie McCart, Tom Walsh and Jordan White on the bench. Cove only had 14 players available and started Daniel Park, a former Inverness youth player, and former Caley Jags transfer target Blair Yule.
Inverness had earlier chances through Coll Donaldson and Liam Polworth but a defensively resolute Cove were holding form. They briefly threatened at the other end too, with Harry Milne connecting with Connor Scully’s free-kick and forcing Mark Ridgers to smother at the second attempt.
The hosts were struggling for good deliveries into the box and George Oakley and Nathan Austin did not have much to feed on. Oakley had a close-range shot blocked by goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie and ended a flowing move by striking straight at the Cove stopper, as Inverness probed for a way through.
Austin was the man to break the deadlock on the half-hour mark when he tapped in at the back post, following good work by Aaron Doran and Oakley.
The former Falkirk and East Fife striker should have doubled his tally five minutes later when he caught Harry Milne in possession and had a free run at goal. He attempted to round McKenzie but the away goalkeeper read his intentions and smothered the ball.
A second goal did come his way four minutes before the interval after Rooney set Polworth galloping clear, with the midfielder squaring for Austin to roll into an empty net.
The second half was a tamer affair as the home side kept the ball for long periods without testing McKenzie too much. Darryn Kelly reacted well to block Doran’s low strike before Paul McManus stung Ridgers’ palms from the edge of the box.
White headed against the bar from close range late on as Caley Thistle sought to stretch their lead but they had already done enough to secure an opening three points.