Head coach Jack Ross admitted Hibernian fans had played a “massive part” in their 3-2 victory over Motherwell in a game that encapsulated what football had been missing last season.
Hibs had 1,810 fans in a crowd of 5,240 at Fir Park and the atmosphere spurred both sets of players on to produce a thrilling cinch Premiership opener.
Motherwell twice led through headed goals from Kevin Van Veen and Bevis Mugabi and Hibs fought back through Kyle Magennis and Christian Doidge before Martin Boyle’s 70th-minute penalty earned them the three points.
There were eight bookings from referee David Munro as well as controversial penalty calls as players bounced off the returning atmosphere in an edgy encounter.
“I think everybody that was here would have enjoyed the game,” Ross said. “It was a beautiful day, a beautiful pitch and a terrific atmosphere.
“We spoke regularly last season about how much no fans was a factor in games. I think you can see the difference today.
“It was aggressive, physical and played at a high intensity but nothing untoward. It was just a really good game.
“Hopefully that bodes well for what lies ahead. Obviously our supporters have gone away happy but I think everyone who was in the stadium would have enjoyed their afternoon’s entertainment.
“We spoke last season about how decision-making could be influenced by fans – sometimes not in a good way because sometimes you break ranks easier then you should, but other times how much it helps players and gives them extra energy.
“Undoubtedly it helps you run that little bit further and that bit harder. Especially when we were shooting towards our own fans in the second half, it helped us without a shadow of a doubt. They played a massive part in that game.
“All round, it was a really good day for us because we won the game and got the opportunity to share that joy with them at the end of the game.
“It’s just good to get back to playing football in front of supporters.”
Motherwell boss Graham Alexander felt his side deserved at least a point.
“Our energy levels dropped a bit midway through the second half but that’s understandable considering some of the players were playing their first game for months,” he said. “I was happy to see the team play like that against a top opponent.
“I thought the players and supporters bounced off each other. Our performance merited the support we got but the crowd really got behind us and they could see what a team we could potentially be this season in an attacking sense, how we worked off the ball, and unfortunately the result has gone away from us.
“But that’s a performance we need to replicate because in other games we will win.”
Alexander was frustrated to lose the game from a handball call against Stephen O’Donnell.
“I’ve not seen it from close up, only from wide-angle footage, but all I can see is Stephen O’Donnell is two yards away from the shot,” he said. “I defy anyone to do something different.”