Despite playing the last 15 minutes effectively with 10-men with Gabi Zakuani limping around with an obvious muscle injury, Peterborough United held on for an opening day win over Rochdale thanks to a second half strike from Kyle Vassell.
The home side got the game underway at Spotland with Jamie Allen registering the first shot of the campaign which goalkeeper Ben Alnwick easily claimed.
Kyle Vassell nodded wide at the back post after a well-worked Posh set-piece on six minutes. Goalkeeper Lillis was called into the first serious action on 11 minutes as Washington rolled the ball to Mendez-Laing, his curler from 20-yards tipped over the bar by the Dale stopper.
Mendez-Laing, enjoying a lively start, was a whisker away from breaking the deadlock on the quarter hour mark after cutting inside from the right, his powerful 25-yard drive crashing against the underside of the crossbar before being hacked clear.
Alnwick produced an excellent stop to push a Bennett drive over the bar on 18 minutes as this Sky Bet League One fixture continued to entertain.
Jon Taylor was denied his first Posh goal on his league debut for the club by an excellent stop from Lillis on the half hour mark after a low Jermaine Anderson cross from the right.
Alnwick made a good double stop on 34 minutes to deny Donnelly and Henderson, the second an eye catching stop at the feet of the winger.
George Donnelly poked wide on 58 minutes as a ball in behind caught out centre back Jack Baldwin.
Posh got themselves in front on 61 minutes as Kyle VASSELL stroked home with his left-foot into the bottom corner after excellent hold-up play from strike partner Washington in the six-yard box.
Rochdale made a double change on 64 minutes and Posh followed suit with a substitution of their own with Kenny McEvoy replacing Taylor who hobbled out of the action.
Lund fired wide from distance for Dale after catching Posh on the break following a slip by Washington.
Alnwick was well-placed to deny substitute Vincenti at the back post on 77 minutes after Posh finally got back to having 11 men on the field as Baldwin received stitches.
Posh made a change on 80 minutes as goalscorer Vassell was replaced by Tyrone Barnett. Kane Ferdinand replaced Mendez-Laing on 84 minutes.
Vincenti fired wide inside eight minutes of added time with Ntlhe and Zakuani both limping their way through stoppage time
Final Score: Rochdale 0-1 Posh
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty (sub Bunney 79min), Bennett, Lancashire, Lund, Done, Tanser, Donnelly (sub Vincenti 64min), Allen (sub Andrew 64min), Rose, Henderson. Unused subs: Musangu, Eastham, Hery, Logan.
Posh: Alnwick, Bostwick, Zakuani, Baldwin, Ntlhe, Payne, Anderson, Mendez-Laing (sub Ferdinand 84min), Taylor (sub McEvoy 65min), Washington, Vassell (sub Barnett 80min). Unused subs: Day, Smith, Santos, McCann.
Attendance: 3,613 (799 Posh fans)