Ross County will hope their convincing home victory over St Johnstone sets the tone for how they mean to continue at Dingwall this season.
The Staggies cruised to a comfortable victory over their Perth opponents, with a goal in each half from Kyle Turner and Connor Randall getting them off the mark for the campaign.
Malky Mackay’s men would have triumphed by a more handsome margin but for the excellent performance of Saints goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov.
County looked sharp from the offset and Mitov was called upon to deny Simon Murray, Jordan White and debutant Ryan Leak in the early stages, while Murray and Josh Sims were both off target with headed opportunities.
Saints’ only first half threat came when Ross Laidlaw was forced to make a fine parried save to deny Daniel Phillips’ long-range strike.
The deadlock was broken on 40 minutes when substitute Turner capitalised on slack defending by Oludare Olufunwa before showing composure to tuck his first Staggies goal under the body of Mitov.
Randall added a timely second shortly after the break following good play down the left involving Sims and George Harmon, before the Englishman supplied a delightful drilled finish from the edge of the box.
There were further chances for White and Murray to add to the scoring, while Saints had opportunities through Taylor Steven and Dylan McGowan, who was denied by Sims’ goalline clearance.
The Staggies merited their clean sheet, however, which will come to the delight of Mackay and his players.
County well worthy of first points of season
The Staggies were unquestionably good value for their victory against a Saints side who are struggling to kick-start their campaign.
The win was the ideal way to set the tone for how County will look to perform at home this season.
County went down with a fight against Celtic at Parkhead on the opening day, but it was clearly not a result which will define their campaign.
A home fixture against Saints certainly falls into that category, though. It was the type of game which County at times failed to capitalise on last season, so they will take a huge psychological boost from the manner of the victory.
Their attention now turns to Viaplay Cup action, with what promises to be a tricky tie away to Championship side Airdrieonians next weekend.
A difficult task awaits in County’s next league fixture at home to Rangers later this month, which makes their first triumph of the campaign at only the second attempt all the more significant.
Goals from midfield a boost for Staggies
Mackay earlier this week spoke of his contentment at the four forward options he has assembled for the new campaign.
Although none of them were on the scoresheet against Saints, the Staggies boss will have been equally delighted to see midfielders chipping in with goals.
Turner has yet to make a Premiership start, but he made the perfect impact from the bench, as he netted within six minutes of his first league appearance at Victoria Park.
Randall doubled the advantage at an ideal time shortly after the restart, which put the Dingwall side firmly in command.
The Englishman increasingly looks at home in the middle of the pitch, with the fine strike his second in quick succession after breaking his Staggies goalscoring duck against Edinburgh City last month.
Although Mackay will predominantly look to Jordan White, Simon Murray, Eamonn Brophy and Alex Samuel for goals, a regular contribution from midfield will spread the burden.
Concern for Dhanda
The only blemish on the afternoon came in the form of Yan Dhanda’s withdrawal through injury just after the half-hour mark.
Midfielder Dhanda was on the receiving end of some rough treatment, with Dylan McGowan’s challenge ultimately resulting in him being able to play no further part.
Given how influential a figure Dhanda has become at Victoria Park, Mackay will eagerly hope Dhanda’s absence is a short-lived one.
Turner more than stepped up to the task of filling in and, although Will Nightingale, Scott Allardice and Ben Purrington remain sidelined, Mackay’s squad depth is starting to show, with Jordan Tillson and Eamonn Brophy brought on for their first league appearances of the campaign.
With Nightingale sidelined due to a thigh strain, there was an instant introduction for new signing Ryan Leak, who looked assured in the backline and claimed a clean sheet on his debut.
Mackay made just one change to the side who went down with a spirited showing in in their Premiership opener against Celtic the week previous.
There was a debut for Ryan Leak in defence, who took the place of the sidelined Will Nightingale. Scott Allardice and Ben Purrington both missed out due to injury.
Willie Collum consulted VAR on two notable occasions, opting against dismissing Liam Gordon – who had already been booked – for a heavy challenge on Dhanda.
There was also the possibility of a Saints penalty in the second half for a handball claim, before play ultimately continued.
ROSS COUNTY (4-2-3-1): Laidlaw 6, Brown 7, Baldwin 7, Leak 7, Harmon 6, Randall 7, Loturi 6 (Tillson 72), Sims 8 (Smith 72), White 6, Dhanda 5 (Turner 34), Murray 6 (Brophy 76).
Subs not used: Munro, Sheaf, Henderson, Samuel, Reid.
ST JOHNSTONE (4-3-2-1): Mitov 8; Olufunwa 5 (Jephcott 46), McLelland 5, Gordon 6, Considine 5, McGowan 6, Smith 5 (Steven 59), Phillips 6, Ballantyne 5 (Kucheriavyi 59), Carey 6, May 5.
Subs not used: Richards, Ferguson, Parker, McCrystal.
Josh Sims appears to be thoroughly enjoying his football and he showed some real class in attack for County, with involvement in much of their threat.