Caley Thistle went down 1-0 to Hearts in their Betfred Cup group match courtesy of a controversial penalty for the hosts at Tynecastle.
With both sides playing their first competitive match since March, the game’s decisive moment arrived on 61 minutes when Caley Jags defender Cameron Harper was dubiously adjudged to have handled Josh Ginnelly’s shot by referee Steven McLean.
Jamie Walker struck home the decisive spot-kick, with the Highlanders hosting Cowdenbeath in their next cup outing on Tuesday.
Inverness were captained by new skipper Sean Welsh for the first time, with new signings Wallace Duffy, Robbie Deas, Scott Allardice and Shane Sutherland also handed debuts.
Both sides threatened within the opening five minutes, with the Jambos going close early on when Craig Wighton forced a double save from Mark Ridgers. At the other end, Craig Gordon was forced to make an even better save to thwart Daniel MacKay’s header from a Sutherland delivery.
Hearts came close on 24 minutes when Craig Halkett sent a header inches over the bar from Andy Irving’s free-kick, with the home side coming even closer nine minutes later when Wighton powered an effort off the bar.
Inverness came close towards the end of the half when Allardice’s corner picked out Deas to strike wide, while at the other end Josh Ginnelly struck an effort narrowly over.
Hearts started the second half brightly, with Jamie Brandon’s effort denied by an impressive near post save from Ridgers, who also tipped an Olly Lee effort over moments later.
That proved to be the decisive moment, with Caley Jags failing to convert a glorious chance which arrived six minutes from time when Storey’s delivery was thumped wide by substitute Nikolay Todorov.