They wore chequered shirts perhaps in anticipation of a game of chess but Hawke's Bay United, to their horror, found themselves at the end of a rash of checkmate calls in Auckland today.
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Bay franchise team took a 5-0 flogging at the hands of Eastern Suburbs at Madills Farm, after the opening-round ISPS Handa premiership match was switched from the Riverhills Park venue.
With the Lily Whites drawing blood early and finding themselves 2-0 down early, a predominantly new-look Bay United side felt the full brunt of the Auckland-based outfit benefiting from its affiliation with the Ole Football Academy that paved the way for a Western Suburbs (Wellington) muster to bolster the Eastern Suburbs' squad.
Mohamed Awad, one of those academy graduates under the tutelage of coach Declan Edge, who was vociferous on the sideline and also mentors Western Suburbs in the Ultra Football Central League in winter, had triggered off another goal-scoring blitz in the second half.
All that equates to Bay United coach Brett Angell going back to his drawing board to impress on captain Sam Mason-Smith and his troops to smartly take a leaf out of the books of the adjustment bureau to help break last season's win-less streak at the Bluewater Stadium in Napier when they host the Canterbury United Dragons in a 1pm kick off.
Angell, revealing he had seen better days as he tries to resurrect the franchise team to make the national summer league playoffs after missing out for the first time last season in six summers, put today's result down to a lack of concentration.
"It wasn't the start we were looking for," he lamented, after All White Andre de Jong broke away before chipping the ball over Bay United goalkeeper Mackenzie Waite to put the hosts up 1-0 in just the seventh minute.
"The second one we gave away due to our own problems so it's not that they, realistically, opened us up," he said after Kingsley Sinclair extended Eastern Suburbs' lead to 2-0 in the 27th minute when De Jong became the provider for the scorer to tap into a gaping net.
At halftime, Angell accepted sometimes things didn't always turn out the way they are intended to but he made his point.
"If we're going to concede goals then we want the opposition to work hard for them," he said, emphasising Eastern Suburbs hadn't at that point.
While the writing was on the wall when Awad's bolshy header saw the ball rocket past Waite in the 61st, Angell felt his men had created some decent chances to score before that and had they found the net the momentum of the game could have swung the visitors' way.
"Lo and behold we then switched off to concede a corner to find ourselves 3-0 down but, hey, that's football," said the English mentor who plied his trade in the English Premier League as a player.
Sinclair calmly deposited another in the corner for his brace in the 74th minute before Nando Pijnaker headed in another in the 83rd minute for a yawning result and an early statement to other rivals that they have come to play this season.
Angell saluted the Lily Whites, who have former Bay United player Tinashe Marowa and title-winning Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers midfielder Patryk Misik in their mix, for not letting Bay United play.
"At the end of the day the scoreline suggests we've been well and truly beaten," he said, before qualifying they had 17 more games to play in the summer towards making things right.
Bay United won't be able to gauge their worth against the Danny Hay-coached Eastern Suburbs until they host them on December 16.
"Hopefully things will be very different in seven weeks' time."
Angell felt the Magpies needed to assert themselves more in the physicality stakes but no one did.
"Full credit to them because I think they most of the second possession."
The lesson, Angell said, was to concentrate and be stronger on the ball in second-phase play.
He was bereft of ideas on why Bay United were second best in that facet but suspected it might have had something to do with many making their debut.
Ironically Hay also is at the helm of an outfit where majority of the players are newbies after a major clean out.
"It was very pleasing but it's just a start and there's still areas we can improve on," he told New Zealand Football.
"We moved the ball really well and some of the young players really stepped up."
Hay said Campbell Strong, 16, personified one of several making his first start at the premiership level.
"I thought he did really well but he was one of many. We're not getting carried away because it's only the first game of the season."