Crewe Alexandra were unable to deny incoming manager Nigel Clough a winning start as they lost 3-1 at Sheffield United.
Defender Harry Maguire scored twice for the Blades during the opening half-hour and Ryan Flynn added a third shortly after the break.
Max Clayton netted a consolation a couple of minutes after coming into the action following fellow substitute Chuks Aneke already hitting the woodwork.
After being declared available, Brad Inman and Oliver Turton were both recalled for the visitors alongside youngster George Ray and Vadaine Oliver as manager Steve Davis made four changes.
But it was Anthony Grant soon heading wide before home keeper George Long was forced to turn over an Abdul Osman header from Byron Moore’s free-kick.
However, Stephen McGinn soon delivered another set-piece for the unmarked Maguire to head the home side into the lead after Kelvin Mellor had been penalised.
Crewe keeper Steve Phillips then fended away from Lyle Taylor but was soon beaten again in a virtual repeat of the opening goal – McGinn’s corner this time being headed in by Maguire at the back post.
The visitors were finding limited opportunities at the other end, with a Ray header and a long-range effort from Matt Tootle failing to unduly concern Long.
A chance did arise early in the second period though with recalled duo Oliver and Inman combining for Moore to send the ball over the crossbar.
But two minutes later Flynn escaped around the back of the visitors’ defence and drilled in a third goal to virtually secure the points.
The Alex in turn lost Ollie Turton to a thigh injury and replaced him with Aneke, although it was Marlon King threatening further reward for their opponents until Aneke volleyed against the woodwork from Moore’s corner.
Despite that disappointment, Aneke then released fellow substitute Clayton to slot home with thirteen minutes remaining before Grant later struck directly at Long from distance.
Sheffield United: Long, McMahon, Hill, McGinn, Maguire, Collins, Flynn, Doyle, Taylor (Coady 82), King (Miller 69), Lappin (Cuvelier 90)
subs (unused): Howard, Westlake, Baxter, Murphy
Goals: Maguire (18, 29), Flynn (55)
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Mellor, Ray, Dugdale, Tootle, Turton (Aneke 57), Osman, Grant, Inman (Clayton 74), Moore, Oliver
subs (unused): Ellis, Guthrie, Nolan, Garratt, Molyneux
Goals: Clayton (77)
Ref: B. Malone
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