Despite an improved second-half performance, Sunderland slipped to defeat to Middlesbrough in Sunday’s Wear-Tees derby.
The match marked the first league meeting between the two sides in more than seven years.
David Moyes selected Paddy McNair in midfield to partner Jack Rodwell, who was forced to drop into the back four later in the game following an injury to John O’Shea.
There was also a debut in the Sunderland side for summer signing Papy Djilobodji, while loan capture Adnan Januzaj made his first start for the club.
After having made a bright start, the hosts headed into the interval trailing by two goals and were unable to restore parity, despite Patrick van Aanholt’s goal with 71 minutes on the clock.
Newly-promoted Boro, who have now taken four points from their first two Premier League games, took the lead in the 13th minute, when Cristhian Stuani produced a superb long-range strike to beat ‘keeper Vito Mannone in the top corner.
Stuani doubled his tally and the visitors’ lead in added time at the end of the first half, when Alvaro Negredo, who’d played a role in the build-up to the first goal, provided the pass for his team-mate to poke the ball home.
Sunderland rallied after the break and grabbed a deserved opener with 20 minutes remaining, when van Aanholt was quickest to react after Duncan Watmore’s shot was parried by Middlebrough ‘keeper Brad Guzan.
The hosts had the opportunity to level the score in the minutes that followed, but Donald Love was unable to steer the ball goal-ward after Guzan had been unable to collect a shot.
And that was to be as close as the hosts would get to finding an equaliser, as Middlesbrough held on for a victory that further underlines their credentials as a top-level side.
Lynden Gooch was an impressive performer for the hosts, offering an attacking threat on the left throughout the contest, while Jermain Defoe produced a lively display heading up the Black Cats’ attack.
Moyes’ men return to action on Wednesday, when Shrewsbury Town are visitors to the Stadium of Light in the second round of the EFL Cup.