The presence of six debutants in the Cobblers side at York illustrated a change of personnel but the game in which they played suggests many of the same old problems persist.
This was not a away-day collapse of the proportions of last season; there was no 10-minute avalanche of goals for the home side, no waving of the white flag and certainly no meek surrender.
But there was a defeat, and the nature of it – a late goal after both the first and second ball into the box had been lost to the hosts - had a sense of the grimly inevitable about it.
While that will concern some, there is no real reason for alarm. Not yet, anyway. If the team is still losing games like this in 10 or 20 matches time, then an inquest can begin.
While this loss was disappointing, there is nothing in history to suggest that opening-day results are a barometer of anything at all.
The last time Northampton won one (against Cheltenham on day one of the 2008-09 campaign) they scored four times and Leon Constantine scored the kind of debut goal that had people excited about the potential for greatness of both the team and that individual player.
The club was relegated that season, and nobody needs reminding of the career Constantine went on to have at the club.
That is not to say that nothing at all can be read into Saturday’s loss at York. There was resilience but still the side lost – that needs to be addressed.
Question marks, too, remain over the formation. Playing a lone striker will always limit the amount of attacking play a team has and how many chances they are capable of generating.
Roy O’Donovan is suited to the role because he is naturally fit, has a bottomless stamina and will gladly run all day but it also means he is often fighting for scraps around the box rather than getting in it and on the end of things.
In the absence of Clive Platt, though, whose able to hold up the ball and bring others into play with his dead-weight passing, it is a role he will probably have to persist with.
The bonfire that Aidy Boothroyd and the squad held recently has consigned the memories of last season’s play-off final to smouldering ashes.
But the smoke of countless away-day losses has not completely been blown away on the close-season wind. Not yet anyway.
Made two or three very good saves and had little chance of saving the shot that eventually beat him ...7
Struggled against the myriad talents of the direct Chambers but was assured on the ball and distributed well ...6
Accommodated for his lack of size with a cool and accomplished display and looked to have done enough to secure a clean sheet ...7
Possibly the pick of the outfield players, competed well with Cresswell and used his physical presence to good effect ...7
A steady display and kept Jarvis considerably quieter than Chambers was on the opposite wing ...7
As is often the case with wide players, was marginalised at times but showed a good turn of pace and made some headway at times ...6
Played as a holding central midfielder and was fine when York were in possession but struggled when the onus was on him to distribute ...5
Seemed to get bogged down with the minutiae of midfield play and had no platform to display his excellent range of passing ...6
Not the best of debuts; improved in the second half when played in a more advanced role but the tackle for which he was sent off was clumsy and unnecessary ...5
Seemed to play with very little verve or exuberance and knows he can perform better than he did in this game ...5
The lone striker role is frequently a thankless task and that was the case for O’Donovan, although he did well with the only true chance he had ...6
JJ HOOPER (for Emerton, 90mins)
Not used: Snedker, Dias, Moyo, Toney, Demontagnac