Plymouth Argyle 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers may have opened their latest campaign in much the same way as they finished plenty of their last - with a 1-1 draw - but there wasn't much else familiar about the squad that trooped out of Home Park on Saturday evening.
Not only was there of course a new manager in residence for his first competitive game, but seven other 'debutants' and just two survivors in the starting line-up from Wolves' previous visit to the West Country four months earlier.
The winds of change have swept through Molineux this summer, and for new boss Mick McCarthy Wolves remains very much a work in progress bearing in mind he is only a fortnight into the job.
But if nothing else there already appears, despite the loss of so many high-profile stars from last season, a strong and determined resilience in the new breed synonymous with pretty much every team McCarthy has managed.
On that most recent gruelling sojourn down the M5, Plymouth had made April Fools of Glenn Hoddle's Wolves inflicting as comfortable a 2-0 defeat as you would ever wish to see and pretty much ending any lingering hopes of making last season's play-offs. It could be argued that Wolves attacking edge this weekend was no better than that dreadful afternoon, but over the rest of the pitch they were more intense, more focused, and managed to take advantage of the huge dollop of Lady Luck which provided a 47th minute equaliser.
Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick did not have a save to make all match and yet, having helplessly watched Kevin O'Connor's shot take a wicked deflection of Mathias Kouo-Doumbe to drag Wolves level, was almost beaten again in the last minute as Jamie Clapham's angled drive was a whisker the wrong side of the upright.
In contrast Wolves custodian Matt Murray made up for all his recent inactivity through injury with an almost immaculate afternoon's work spoiled only when his efforts to deny Barry Hayles from close range weren't enough to prevent the veteran striker poking Argyle into a first half lead.
Murray, a surprise starter bearing in mind a lack of training this week after dis-comfort from his previously injured foot, broke Plymouth hearts and that of new manager Ian Holloway with a string of superb saves to demonstrate, that with a fair wind, he could easily find a place among the top handful of English goalkeepers.
"He's a monster," exclaimed Holloway. "Where did they find him?!"
Referee Iain Williamson credited Murray with diverting Paul Wotton's 23rd minute free kick onto the bar and over even though the keeper didn't appear to get a touch, but there was no mistaking his involvement from the resulting corner as he tipped Lilian Nalis's goalbound header over the same upright.
He also denied Hayles from a one-one-one shortly after he had broken the deadlock and then saved from Tony Capaldi and David Norris before his final act of defiance, somehow tipping Norris low 85th minute shot around the post.
Murray apart there were other positives - the heart-onthe-sleeve leadership of new captain Jody Craddock as well as the midfield dynamism from O'Connor and Karl Henry.
"I'm certainly pleased with a point and with how hard the players worked and their resolute defending," reflected McCarthy, who lost Gary Breen to an ankle injury likely to rule him out of tomorrow's clash with Ipswich. "There was some decent stuff at times, but we didn't really play great football, although after 12 days for me with the players it's a hard-earned draw.
"Matt had limped off last weekend but had some positive news with a scan and it's lovely to see him come back and produce a terrific performance.
"We still need an few more players, and I'll be sitting down with Jez (Moxey) next week to go through the numbers. But it's amazing what not getting beat can do for confidence and you can see by the reaction of the fans that everyone has been lifted by this point."
Scorers: Hayles (36) 1-0; Kouo-Doumbe og (47) 1-1.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE (4-4-2): McCormick; Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Capaldi; Norris, Nalis (Djordjic 73), Wotton, Hodges; Chadwick (Ebanks-Blake 60), Hayles. Subs: Barness, Reid, Summerfield. WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-4-2) Murray; Clyde, Breen (Edwards 45), Crad-dock, Naylor; Ricketts (Gobern 82), Henry, O'Connor, Clapham; Bothroyd (Davies 65), Cort. Subs: Oakes (gk), Frankowski. Referee: I. Williamson (Berkshire). Bookings: Plymouth - Chadwick, Norris, Nalis fouls), Connolly (dissent). Wolves -Clapham, Henry, Edwards.
Wolves' man of the match: Matt Murray - the big man was the main reason Wolves emerged unscathed.