Cleverly-taken goals by Jermain Defoe and David Connolly gave West Ham the perfect start to life in Division One.
The worry for manager Glenn Roeder is that the club's defensive frailties look unresolved - an Eddie Lewis goal gave Preston the lead inside two minutes, highlighting one of the reasons why West Ham are starting life outside the top flight for the first time in a decade.
Lewis' goal was due to hesitant defending and as the game developed both Tomas Repka and David James displayed some idiosyncratic decision-making.
However, within three minutes of Lewis' goal, Defoe had pulled West Ham level with a superb finish after good work by Matthew Etherington and Don Hutchison.
Even without the attacking creativity of Joe Cole, Freddie Kanoute, Glen Johnson and Trevor Sinclair, West Ham showed that Roeder has plenty of attacking potential at his disposal.
Early on Defoe and Neil Mellor established a useful attacking partnership.
Jonathan Gould had to be alert to that duo in the 20th minute when Defoe released Mellor, whose first-time shot was well saved by the Preston goalkeeper.
Roeder replaced Mellor on the hour, introducing David Connolly, who took just eight minutes to make his mark on the game.
Intelligently holding his run to stay onside, Connolly raced away on to Etherington's pass, cut inside Graham Alexander, before beating Jonathan Gould with a well-disguised shot.
Just as Defoe and Mellor prospered, so did Ricardo Fuller for the Preston attack in the early stages.
On 10 minutes the Jamaican jinked his way past four West Ham defenders, only to send his shot wide.
Fuller also had a reasonable penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be held back by Repka.
The start to the new season had the most dramatic of starts thanks to Lewis' goal.
Alexander cut in from the right and crossed to the American international, who exploiting Anton Ferdinand's hesitancy, stooped to head the ball past James.
Three minutes later Defoe showed no such hestitation as the striker demonstrated his speed of thought and feet.
Defoe's cleverly allowed Etherington's cross to travel to Hutchison, who nodded the ball back into the path of the England international and his first-time shot gave Gould no chance.
Preston: Gould, Alexander, Jackson, Lucketti, Edwards, Healy,
Etuhu, O'Neil, Lewis, Cresswell, Fuller. Subs: Lucas, Abbott,
Keane, Skora, Lynch.
West Ham: James, Ferdinand, Repka, Dailly, Brevett, Garcia,
Lee, Hutchison, Etherington, Mellor, Defoe. Subs: Bywater,
Connolly, Byrne, Noble, Sofiane.
Referee: P Danson (Leicestershire)