Tony Pulis's close-season rebuilding programme paid handsome dividends as a Stoke team with seven debutants earned a comfortable win at Derby.
Gifton Noel-Williams marked his debut with a goal, and Chris Greenacre notched the second to give the Potters a lead they defended resolutely.
Stoke bore no resemblance to the team that avoided relegation on the last day of last season.
One of their seven debutants, Noel-Williams, repaid Pulis's faith by firing Stoke ahead on 14 minutes.
Fellow debutant Keith Andrews found himself in space in the Derby box and crossed for Noel-Williams to bundle the ball in off his shins.
Stoke doubled their lead five minutes later with a well-crafted goal.
Stoke on fire
14mins: Noel-Williams fires Stoke ahead
19mins:Greenacre doubles Stoke's lead
90mins: Neale ices Stoke's cake
Yet another of Stoke's debutants, Carl Asaba, held the ball up well before laying the ball into the path of Greenacre who buried his shot under Andy Oakes' dive.
It completed a miserable first-half for the Rams.
Derby boss George Burley was forced to throw loan signing Gary Caldwell into the team, after the Newcastle central defender was given clearance to play.
The Rams also gave debuts to Portuguese winger Candido Costa, and 16-year-old Tom Huddlestone, who started in midfield.
The game was just 50 seconds old when Derby striker Izale McLeod was booked by referee Howard Webb for a dive following a collision with Stoke keeper Ed de Gooey, who was making his Potters' bow after his move from Chelsea.
Derby's plight worsened in the second-half when McLeod was stretchered off soon after the restart.
Stoke had their injury problems and de Goey's debut ended early when he limped off to be replaced by Neil Cutler.
Derby boss George Burley's pre-match forecast that his team lacked fire-power proved prophetic as his side failed to make an impression in Stoke's well-marshalled defence.
Stoke unerlined their superiority when Lewis Neale made it 3-0 in the last minute.
Derby: Oakes, Hunt, Huddlestone, Mills, Elliott, Jackson,
Candido Costa, Taylor, Caldwell, McLeod, Morris. Subs: Grant,
Valakari, Bolder, Boertien, Tome.
Stoke: de Goey, Thomas, Marcus Hall, Andrews, Clarke, Eustace, Russell, Marteinsson, Noel-Williams, Greenacre, Asaba. Subs: Cutler, Iwelumo, Neal, Goodfellow, Commons.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)