The Tigers returned to the Premier League with a 2-0 reverse as early goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard ensured Jose Mourinho enjoyed a winning start to his second stint at the helm of the Blues.
Hull were outclassed in the first half with only some wasteful finishing on the part of the home side and a series of saves by Allan McGregor preventing Chelsea going in four or five goals ahead at the break.
After the restart, however, Hull were much improved with the introduction of new signings Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore bringing a great deal more control to their play.
Bruce, while admitting his side had been put to the sword in the opening 45 minutes, believes the manner of the Tigers’ display offers hope for the challenges that lay ahead.
The Hull chief said: “In the second half, we were obviously a lot better. But the intensity at which Chelsea played in the first 25 minutes it was always going to be difficult.
“The whole ground was behind the team with the ‘Special One’ coming back. A lot of teams would have found it very difficult to play against a very good Chelsea team. The movement in their play made it very, very difficult.
“We stuck at it and made a fist of it in the second half. We needed to because the first half was very difficult.”
Asked why record signing Huddlestone and Livermore – both captured late last week from Tottenham Hotspur – had started on the bench, Bruce replied: “We had only had them 48 hours really and, believe it or not, we had been working on a system to play against Chelsea for the last two or three weeks.
“To create an atmosphere and a spirit, you have to be kind to the players that have got you here.
“When you have been to places like Barnsley – no disrespect intended – and people have done well for me then it is important that they be rewarded too.
“But, make no mistake, the two boys from Tottenham will make a huge difference to us. We have got many games to play where we won’t be playing Chelsea every week, thankfully.”
Hull’s defeat yesterday afternoon meant all three clubs promoted from last season’s Championship lost on the opening weekend.
Earlier in the day, Crystal Palace went down 1-0 at home to Spurs while Cardiff City lost 2-0 at West Ham United on Saturday afternoon.
All three have been tipped by the bookmakers to make an instant return to the second tier, but Bruce believes his squad is well equipped for the challenges that lay ahead.
He said: “I sincerely hope we have got enough. We all know how difficult it’s going to be.
“What has changed this year compared to previous years is that even the smaller teams have all invested a lot of money.
“When you see the likes of Southampton, Swansea and Norwich all spending big, that shows it is going to be tough. But let’s try and make a fist of it and make sure we do our best to stay here.”
Hull’s afternoon got off to the worst possible start with Chelsea awarded a penalty after just five minutes when McGregor flattened Fernando Torres.
The Scot then made amends by saving Lampard’s penalty, but he could do nothing about Oscar’s poked effort just eight minutes later that broke the deadlock.
Lampard netted the second goal on 25 minutes and at that stage a rout seemed a distinct possibility.
However, a couple of fine saves by McGregor then ensured Hull went in at the break no further behind and that gave Bruce’s side sufficient encouragement to put in a much improved display after the break.
The second of those saves by McGregor saw Hull unwittingly make history as the Premier League’s new goal-line technology was tested for the first time.
Hawk-Eye’s first deployment came when Branislav Ivanovic met Lampard’s corner with a firm header and McGregor pulled off a fantastic double save.
With the second of those coming right on the goal-line, Chelsea appealed in vain for a goal only to be waved away by Jonathan Moss.
Under the new system, the referee’s watch will buzz when the ball crosses the goal-line and Moss felt no vibrations.
As play continued, there were no further protests from the Chelsea players while Mourinho and Hull counterpart Bruce shared pleasantries as the half came to an end.
Replays later indicated the technology was working and Hawk-Eye’s view of the incident was broadcast on television and on the big screen in the ground, proving that the right decision had been made.
Meanwhile, Mourinho hinted after yesterday’s game that a further bid for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney could be in the offing.
He said: “We will try till the last day to add a new player to the squad, a striker, but in this moment every striker has a club, every striker belongs to somebody and I don’t think it’s ethical that I name players that belong to other clubs.
“We don’t try, like many clubs do, to go around and try to influence players to behave in a certain way.
“If we have to make a bid, we make it in an official way, we don’t speak to players, we speak to clubs.”
On his return to English football after five years with Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho added: “When I saw the second half growing into another destination, at the beginning I was a bit frustrated because I want more.
“But after five or 10 minutes, I was thinking we didn’t (give more) because we couldn’t – we can’t play that way for 90 minutes.”