If Fife Flyers wanted an early indication of what to expect this season, it came tonight.
Braehead Clan hit town with a team that was a significant upgrade on last season, and produced a masterclass in hockey, winning 5-1.
Two goals in within eight seconds blew open a game that had been very even and very keenly contested for ten minutes.
After that they never looked back.
From Flyers’ perspective, they were bad goals to cough; David Brown should have done better to block Bari McKenzie from a very tight angle wide on the right for the first, while the second was down to Fife not getting themselves together straight from the face-off, allowing the same player to net pretty much unmarked.
‘‘You can’t play catch-up against a side of the calibre of Braehead,’’ reflected coach Todd Dutiaume afterwards.
Credit to Flyers, they kept digging away - the performance wasn’t as bad as the scoreline might suggest, but they were living off scraps.
Clan gave almost nothing away defensively, in Chris Holt they have a netminder who makes the big saves with almost nonchalent ease - witness his glove plucking a stray puck off TJ Caig’s stick with the goal at his mercy.
But it was going forward that Clan were simply wonderful to watch.
A team built to compete in the Champions League, with three NHLers on the bench, simply kept motoring for the 60 minutes. even at 5-1 with less than two minutes to go the forwards were still looking to pounce.
This was as thoroughly professional a game as any team has executed on Fife ice for a very long time - on this form Clan will surely be key players in the title race.
For Flyers, it was a tough 60 minutes in front of a 3000 crowd - another outstanding attendance at the rink.
They started brightly in a very even opening ten minutes, and had they not coughed those two lightning quick goals then who knows how this game might have unfolded.
If the first two were self inflicted, then the third counter at 17:58 was down to the sheer skill of Brendan Brooks with a great finish.
Fife’s hope of a comeback rested on a quick response in the second period, but Clan’s group on the game remained resolute, and when Marcus Gotz hammered a cracker of a slapshot from the point through traffic and into the net for 4-0 at 28:44 it was game over.
A fifth counter just 36 seconds into the fifth underlined Clan’s relentless forward motion - Scott Pitt mopping up front of net - and thereafter all Fife could do was make sure they weren’t shut out on home ice. Paddy Cullen finally found a route past Holt with a flick of the wrist at 41:56.
A tough result, but one that was pretty much down to the better team winning - and winning with pace, precision and power.