Birmingham City 2, Colchester United 1

If Birmingham City don't finish in the top six this season I will eat my hat, coat and any other items of clothing on offer.

That may seem like an incongruous statement after seeing Birmingham scramble to victory over arguably the weakest team in the Championship, but the evidence is crystal clear.

After last year's harrowing campaign, Steve Bruce needed to clear the decks, which he did with ruthless efficiency.

Thirteen players headed through the exit door at St Andrew's, as Bruce dismantled his ageing squad and started with a blank template.

Eight additions and a youthful vibrancy have given Blues the potential to justify the bookmakers' tag of favourites this year and there is more to come.

Yes, there were long spells in the second half where they looked distinctly uncomfortable against Colchester, but they always had something up their sleeve.

Bruce's boys will have to adjust to the baggage that is omnipresent with being clear favourites to return to the Premiership, but that will sit easily on their shoulders in time.

With Bruce threatening to make two more signings, which, according to him, will be the biggest business of the summer, Birmingham's squad will be a fearsome prospect.

Radhi Jaidi has still to enter the equation and Matthew Upson will be fit in September by which time, Blues should be clicking into to top gear.

A plethora of new signings in a relatively short space of time is always hard to incorporate and this mean machine won't warm up until autumn is upon us. So, in the interim period, it is important that Bruce's squad accrue points and it was mission accomplished against Colchester.

After 45 minutes of frenetic Championship football, which contained more excitement than nine months of Premiership tedium, Blues were reading the script to perfection.

The behemoths of the division were swatting aside the paupers courtesy of a Dudley 'DJ' Campbell header after an exquisite Bruno N'Gotty cross.

Birmingham were in complete control as the first stanza drew to a close and talk was rife of exactly how many goals they were going to score.

Nobody told Colchester the rules though and they proceeded to make life distinctly uncomfortable.

Richard Garcia equalised before Cameron Jerome's debut made history for the wrong reasons after he was sent off within five minutes of entering the fray.

Television evidence ratified Bruce's claims that Jerome had been unfortunate to see red for, ostensibly, handing off Karl Duguid.

Nevertheless, that left Birmingham - the champions elect - with 20 minutes to hold on and somehow conjure up a winner against game but limited opponents. And there lies the crux of why Birmingham will at least be contesting a play-off fixture come the end of May.

Whilst Colchester, and no disrespect intended bought on former York striker Chris Iwelumo and Jamie Guy to transform proceedings, Bruce had bigger artillery up his sleeve.

Three Arsenal starlets and a £3 million man in the form of Jerome were waiting in the wings for Birmingham and therein lies the difference.

Colchester were playing at full tilt to contain Birmingham but there is appreciably more bubbling under the surface in Small Heath. Despite being a man shy, one always felt Birmingham would emerge triumphant and so it proved.

A sublime pass from Arsenal loanee Sebastian Larsson reached Stephen Kelly whose cross reached Bendtner.

The strapping Denmark Under-21 international announced his arrival on the Championship scene in considerable style as he rode a tackle before delivering the textbook finish in front of the Tilton Road.

It was really a tale of two debutants with Jerome sitting at home stewing on Saturday night whilst Bendtner enjoyed the adulation of a club yearning for an icon.

Birmingham are the equivalent of school bullies at this level as one senses that, as long as they are in the top eight in January, the will unlock a huge transfer war-chest for Bruce to augment his already impressive squad.

This was the optimum time for Colchester to face Birmingham with the backing of over 3,000 supporters and the adrenaline rush of their inaugural Championship fixture.

So, the fact that Birmingham dealt with the upstarts from Essex, despite their propensity to self-destruct, ensures that they will be amongst the movers and shakers this season.

If you scratch beneath the surface of Blues' first win of the campaign it is plain to see the bigger picture is extremely bright.

There are sterner tests ahead such as Wednesday's trip to Sunderland. They should not approach it with any trepidation, however.

Whatever the outcome of Wednesday's clash of the relative giants, Birmingham still look in rude health as this gruelling campaign begins to warm up.

Scorers: Campbell (30) 1-0; Garcia (51) 1-1; Bendtner (79) 2-1 BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Taylor; Kelly, Tebily, N'Gotty, Sadler; Johnson, Danns, Clemence (Bendtner, 57), Dunn; Forssell (Jerome, 65), Campbell (Larsson, 56).

Subs: Doyle (GK), Muamba. COLCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): Davidson; Halford, Brown, Baldwin, Elokobi; Izzet (White, 73), Jackson, Watson, Duguid; Garcia (Iwelumo, 67), Cureton (Guy, 82).

Subs: Gerken (GK), Richards.

Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire)

Bookings: Birmingham - Dunn (foul) Sending Off: Birmingham - Jerome (violent conduct)

Attendance: 24, 238 Blues man of the match: Neil Danns - A ubiquitous performance in central midfield allied to no little skill marked Danns out as an integral cog in Blues' promotion charge this season.