Despite a performance of real commitment and plenty of quality, Hull City eventually succumbed to Premier League title-hopefuls Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo - a target for the Tigers the last time they were in the Premier League - headed home the opener 20 minutes into the second half from Pablo Zabaleta’s cross.
And then Yaya Toure put the seal on a victory that proved hard to achieve with a 20-yard free-kick in the 90th minute which found the net via the underside of the cross bar.
Up until that point, Steve Bruce’s side showed no fear against their expensively-assembled hosts from across the Pennines.
If anything, Hull could have been a goal to the good at the break.
After Robert Koren had played on the hesitency of under-fire England goalkeeper Joe Hart early on, Sone Aluke fashioned a glorious chance all on his own.
From inside the centre circle, he fooled Joleon Lescott and raced forward creating a one-on-one chance, only to drag his shot wide of Hart’s post.
Danny Graham then neatly converted Robbie Brady’s left-wing cross only for the goal to be correctly ruled out for offside.
This was all inside the first 11 minutes.
By the quarter-hour mark Koren had almost scored, with a wonderfully-timed half-volley from a cleared corner narrowly whistling past Hart’s left-hand upright.
The hosts came closest to scoring in this hectic opening themselves with Aleksandar Kolarov drawing a fine reaction save from Allan McGregor with a front-post header from Jesus Navas’s corner.
Then Lescott forced McGregor to tip over his header from David Silva’s left-wing cross.
Other than those clear-cut chances, big spending Manchester City were frustrated in their efforts to break down a well-organised Hull City in the first half.
The second half followed a similar pattern, with Hull actually starting to grow into the game and believe they could actually get something from it when Negredo struck.
Introduced at half-time for the ineffective Edin Dzeko, Negredo should have scored on 47 minutes with an easier header that he diverted a long way wide.
But he made no mistake midway through the half with a downward header across McGregor from Zabaleta’s deep cross.
Bruce threw on the returning Stephen Quinn who went close with a right-foot volley that Hart saved.
Graham also volleyed wide as Hull continued to carry a threat.
If the result had been in doubt, Toure put those fears to bed with a wonderful free-kick after Sami Nasri was fouled.
Hull boss Bruce was pleased with his side’s resilient display but was also left to rue the Tigers’ bad luck.
Bruce said: “We are going to be rightly disappointed with the scoreline but I am immensely pleased with the way we played and the way we took them on. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“Our Achilles heel, even last year in the Championship, was can we score enough.
“You can see why we have come out of the Championship with the football we have played, but we need to score.
“We have had a big chance. Sone would have capped a wonderful performance from him if he stuck it away.
“Then the linesman gave an offside, which is right, but it was two inches offside, which I thought these days is supposed to go with the attacker.
“When you realised how close it is, it is a big call. You need that little bit of luck when you come here but it wasn’t to be.”
Bruce had his head in his hands on more than one occasion but joked when asked about it.
The former Manchester United defender said: “I was covering myself because of the abuse I took. I don’t like being called the elephant man!”
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Nastasic, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Toure, Navas, Silva, Dzeko, Aguero. Substitutes: Pantilimon, Clichy, Negredo, Milner, Nasri, Garcia, Jovetic.
Hull City: McGregor, Elmohamady, Figueroa, Chester, Davies; Huddlestone, Livermore; Brady, Koren, Aluko; Graham. Substitutes: Harper, Rosenior, Bruce, Meyler, McShane, Boyd, Quinn.