Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole hailed 'brave' team-mates for overcoming a lack of confidence against Derby County.
Sunderland fought back from an early setback to grab a 1-1 draw in their season-opener on Friday night.
It continued their run of not having won a league game in August since 2010 and means the club have now only won twice in their last 24 competitive matches.
After relegation last season, and the turmoil of a summer which saw some heavy defeats, an aborted takeover attempt and managerial uncertainty, going a goal down after just 12 minutes was the last thing the club needed.
But Cattermole was delighted with the response of his team-mates.
"I thought we started well and conceded against the run of play," he told Sky Sports News.
"It's not easy when you've been relegated and the lads are lacking confidence. I thought the lads were brave.
"Derby controlled a lot of the second half so a draw was probably a fair result."
Cattermole was man of the match for many watchers with an all-action midfield display, even going close to scoring on two occasions, and his former team-mate Wes Brown, a pundit at the game, praised the experienced Teessider's performance.
“They started the game very well - Lee (Cattermole) in particular,” Brown said. “He was a very good captain, he put all the passion into it and it rubs off on the players.
“They (Sunderland) started well and had a goal against the run of play against them.
“They managed to get back into it and kept on going. They did get a little bit tired but they didn’t stop.
“I think Lee was the best example of that."