Following administration and a mass exodus of players, Wigan Athletic fielded a hastily assembled team of youth players, short-term contracts and a few experienced professionals against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
The Tractor Boys ran out 2-0 winners but Latics can be pleased with their efforts in very difficult circumstances.
Teddy Bishop gave the hosts the lead with a header on 11 minutes after a mistake by Emeka Obi and substitute Gwion Edwards sealed the points with a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining.
Joe Garner hit the crossbar for Latics with a spectacular overhead kick but the hosts later spurned several good opportunities with Jamie Jones making some excellent saves.
The big defender Obi had an unfortunate debut missing two headed opportunities in the first half and being caught out of position for the second Ipswich goal.
New manager John Sheridan was only able to name one player Kal Naismith, from the starting eleven against Fulham in the final Championship game of last season.
Short-term contracts Dan Gardner and Viv Solomon-Otabor made their league debuts alongside Academy graduates Chris Merrie, Emeka Obi and Adam Long. Latics’ bench was made up entirely of players from the club’s Academy teams.
Latics made a positive start and might have taken an early lead when Obi came up for an early corner but his free header went wide of the left post.
Ipswich went ahead on 11 minutes when the unfortunate Obi deflected Freddie Sears’ cross from the left into the path of Bishop who headed past keeper Jamie Jones.
Three minutes later Obi had another great chance to score from Gardner’s cross but his header cleared the crossbar.
Jones then denied Bishop at the other end with a superb fingertip save onto the post to keep the score at 1-0.
Garner nearly drew Latics level on 40 minutes with a spectacular overhead kick but unfortunately for the visitors it crashed against the crossbar.
Jones was again forced into action just before the interval, producing an excellent block with his body at his near post to deny Freddie Sears.
1-0 to Ipswich at half time but Latics were unlucky not to be at least level.
Both teams made a change at the break, with midfielder Alex Perry making his debut for Latics in place of Gardner, whilst the Tractor Boys introduced James Norwood for Aaron Drinan.
Substitute Perry might have made it a dream debut early in the half, chesting the ball down before volleying agonisingly just over the crossbar.
Latics were starting to assert their passing game now with Solomon-Otabor linking up well with Tom Pearce down the left and resulting in Pearce’s low cross forcing a save from Tomas Holy.
But with 10 minutes remaining Ipswich effectively sealed the points when substitute Edwards poked the ball home from close range after right back Obi had been caught out of position.
With the clock ticking down Latics handed a seventh league debut, as winger Olly Crankshaw replaced Merrie.
With the final whistle imminent, keeper Jones pulled off another outstanding save to deny Edwards a second goal, superbly turning the ball round the left post.
Despite the defeat it had been a creditable performance by Latics with many pleasing aspects to their play. The style of football was generally good but some of the young players inexperience and a couple of defensive mistakes had let them down.
The challenge for new manager Sheridan will be whether he is allowed to boost the wafer-thin squad with a few experienced players so that the club can stabilise in League One.
However, off-the-field matters continue to dominate and the main priority must be to find new owners as quickly as possible, if the club is to come out of administration and move forward.