Shambolic Sunderland suffered an opening day hiding after slumping to a 4-2 loss at Leicester City.
Three goals inside 15 minutes during a dire first half capitulation confined Sunderland to humiliation at the start of the season, with a result - and performance - that held ominous signs for what lies ahead for Dick Advocaat’s side.
Second half goals from Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher, sandwiched by Marc Albrighton’s strike for the Foxes, gave the scoreline a more respectable complexionfor the Black Cats.
But in truth, it flattered Sunderland, who were defensively horrible and could easily have succumbed to a much heavier loss.
As expected, Younes Kaboul was preferred to John O’Shea in central defence, as one of three summer signings included in the starting XI, along with Jeremain Lens and Sebastian Coates.
Sunderland came close to taking a sixth minute lead when Leicester failed to deal with Seb Larsson’s chipped ball over the top and it bounced favourably for Jermain Defoe, six yards out.
Defoe hit a first-time shot on the turn, which was blocked smartly by Wes Morgan’s desperate challenge.
From the resulting corner, Kaboul’s header was saved by Kasper Schmeichel low to his right, before Jack Rodwell’s effort on the follow-up was again stopped by the Leicester keeper.
But it was Leicester who went ahead in the 11th minute after Sunderland produced an awful piece of defending from a set piece.
Marc Albrighton’s inswinging free-kick from the left was flicked on at the near post by the head of Jamie Vardy and it drifted right across goal before nestling in the far corner.
Sunderland went to bits after that goal - Andy King somehow producing an air-shot from six yards out after Vardy had rolled the ball across the face to him.
But it was 2-0 in the 18th minute after more chronically bad defending from an inswinging Albrighton cross from the left - the ball again going across the face before Mahrez glanced it home at the far post.
Leicester then added a third from the penalty spot after Cattermole stupidly couldn’t resist tripping Mahrez as the Leicester man twisted and turned 15 yards out.
Mahrez took the penalty himself, sending Costel Pantilimon the wrong way by slotting it into the bottom right-hand corner.
Pantilimon was then called into action to prrevent a fourth when Vardy went clean through, only for the Romanian to save one-on-one.
Danny Drinkwater then went close on the stroke of half-time with a long-range fizzer which was pushed away low to his right by Pantilimon.
The second half began in the same vein, Vardy leaving Sebastian Coates for dead in the 52nd minute down the left, getting to the by-line and chipping the ball agonisingly across the face.
Mahrez was then denied his hat-trick by the woodwork after being allowed to twist and turn down the right-hand side of the area, before his shot towards the far corner clipped the outside of the post.
Pantilimon then kept out a Mahrez effort after Patrick van Aanholt had left him free to race down the right before the Sunderland keeper tipped his shot behind at the near post.
The Romanian then had to deny Vardy on the volley after he was left unmarked from a corner 15 yards out.
But against the run of play, Sunderland pulled one back on the hour mark when Johnson threaded Defoe in behind the Leicester back-line.
Defoe kept his cool and immaculately slid it into the bottom corner.
The England striker then had another opportunity when he jinked inside two Leicester defender from the left-hand side of the area, but from 15 yards out, he didn’t make a clean contact and Schmeichel saved low to his right.
But Leicester restored their three-goal advantage in the 67th minute, as Sunderland paid the price for more hapless defending.
Three Sunderland defenders failed to deal with a low cross from the right, it wasn’t properly cleared and when it came back to Albrighton - who was wrongly flagged onside - on the edge of the area, he found the bottom corner.
But the goals kept coming, with substitute Steven Fletcher grabbing another in the 71st minute after he headed into the empty net, following Defoe’s chip over the advancing Schmeichel.
It proved to be only a consolation though. There was no way back from that dire defending.
Leicester: Schmeicel, De Laet (Benalouane 75), Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, King, Drinkwater, Mahrez (Fuchs 77), Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy (Kante 82). Subs not used: Hammond, Kramaric, Ulloa, Schwarzer. Booked: Vardy (49)
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones (Matthews 54), Kaboul, Coates, van Aanholt, Cattermole (Fletcher 30), Larsson, Rodwell, Johnson, Lens, Defoe. Subs not used: Graham, Mannone, Bridcutt, O’Shea, Giaccherini. Booked: Rodwell (17), Jones (42), Kaboul (73), Coates (85)