Roma kicked off the 2017-18 Serie A campaign in just the fashion they wanted on Sunday evening - with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Atalanta in Bergamo.
Aleksandar Kolarov scored the only goal of the game on his debut to secure the three points for the Giallorossi, ending a barren spell against the La Dea that saw Roma fail to beat them in both meetings last season.
The Giallorossi actually lost last season at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, but Kolarov ensured there would be no repeat of that in Eusebio Di Francesco's first game in charge as he fired home from a free-kick shortly after the half-hour mark.
Atalanta pushed and probed for an equaliser throughout, but Roma's defence held on to keep the clean sheet and kick off the campaign in winning fashion.
In truth it was not the most free-flowing and comprehensive performance from Roma but, given the stage of the campaign and the difficulty all sides face when travelling to Atalanta (this was their first home defeat in 2017), the victory was all that mattered.
The hosts came out strongly and tried to set the tempo but, after a brief period to settle in, Di Francesco's side found their rhythm and began to grow into the ascendancy. Defrel steered narrowly wide before Kurtic responded with a wasteful miss, as the game began to open up.
Then came Kolarov's moment of magic, after Radja Nainggolan was fouled on the edge of the box. The Serbian opted to shoot low, under the wall, and his pinpoint effort was enough to beat Etrit Berisha and find the bottom corner.
In the second half Roma fell deeper and deeper as they protected their lead, not helped by an injury to Bruno Peres that forced a defensive reshuffle.
But they held firm and, after Rafael Toloi's header clattered away off the post, were good value for the three points.
New coach Eusebio Di Francesco included few real surprises in his first Roma team selection, opting for the 4-3-3 that he utilised throughout pre-season, with Daniele De Rossi as both captain and central holding midfielder.
Elsewhere there were club debuts for Kolarov and Gregoire Defrel, while Juan Jesus got the nod at centre-back alongside Kostas Manolas.
4' - Alisson makes the game's first save to deny Gomez. At the other end, Dzeko flashes wide from a tight angle.
23' - CHANCE! Roma counter quickly and Peres feeds Defrel, but the forward can't steer his shot inside the post!
25' - Big chance for Atalanta. Kurtic blasts over from 12 yards out - a let-off for the visitors.
31' - GOAL! ROMA LEAD! KOLAROV! From a free-kick on the edge of the box, Kolarov fires under the wall for the first goal of the new campaign! 0-1!
42' - Atalanta get a free-kick on the edge of the box. Gomez goes for the far corner but Alisson makes a good stop.
49' - Early chance for the hosts - but Petagna shoots straight at Alisson when presented with a clear sight of goal.
65' - A bright spell from the hosts as they apply some pressure, but Roma weather the storm.
70' - Dzeko meets Kolarov's low cross but his flicked effort is not on target.
87' - POST! Roma escape! Gomez's cross is flicked on, and at the far post Ilicic's crucial touch hits the woodwork!
90'+3 - Gomez swings in the free-kick but Toloi's flick is not on target.
Key match statistics
Social media reaction
“It was important to win the game. We were under pressure in the second half but we also had one or two chances ourselves to kill the game off. Atalanta are a very good side, but for us it was key to get off to a good start.”
"I saw a side out there that wanted to bag all three points. That’s the mentality of a top side. Those at the top often have to win ugly – that’s what we had to do today. I know this team can develop even further.
Eusebio Di Francesco
The big games keep coming for the Giallorossi - as their first home game of the campaign sees them host a familiar face at the Stadio Olimpico.
Luciano Spalletti and Inter Milan come to the capital on Saturday evening (Aug 26), in the second and final game before the season's first international break.
ATALANTA 0-1 ROMA
Goalscorers: Kolarov (31')
Atalanta: Berisha; Toloi, Palomino, Masiello; Hateboer, Cristante, Freuler, Gosens; Kurtić, Petagna (Corneluius), Gomez.
Roma: Alisson; Bruno Peres (Fazio), Manolas, Juan Jesus, Kolarov; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Strootman; Defrel (El Shaarawy), Dzeko, Perotti (Pellegrini).