The opening-day wake-up call, the yellow peril and the skipper's substitution ... the story of Stoke City 4 Rotherham United 1

Rotherham United's Cafu is sent off at Stoke City after picking up a second yellow card the bet365 Stadium. Pictures: Jim BrailsfordRotherham United's Cafu is sent off at Stoke City after picking up a second yellow card the bet365 Stadium. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Rotherham United's Cafu is sent off at Stoke City after picking up a second yellow card the bet365 Stadium. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Events didn't do go according to plan for the Millers in Staffordshire.

HIS stint on the touchline with just a jumper for protection didn't last for long.

Saturday's rain had abated at the bet365 Stadium but while it was August on the calendar it was October in the air as Rotherham kicked off the new Championship season.

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Proceedings on the pitch against Stoke City were doing nothing to warm Millers manager Matt Taylor and within minutes his coat was on.

Within five minutes, to be exact: the same amount of time it took his side to fall behind on a sobering opening-day afternoon of second-tier reflection for the team from South Yorkshire.

Rotherham, having seemingly built their strongest squad for years, had no answer to the onslaught from an excellent home side whose heavy spending through the summer helped them make light work of the visitors.

The strength of the Championship, eh? Particularly the Championship this year.

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The injury-hit Millers were too slow out of the blocks and then completely undone by eight minutes of mayhem at the end of the first half when Stoke struck twice to triple their advantage.

"We paid the price for a poor start," Taylor said. "We were too sluggish in our movements, we couldn't cover the space and it turned into a difficult first half.

"Regardless of what we did in the second half, which was much improved and meant we gave ourselves a chance before the sending-off, those two goals before half-time really killed us."

Ah, the sending-off. Key man Cafu won the ball cleanly in the 70th minute yet found himself walking for a soft and second caution in a contest of ten bookings brought about by the EFL's new stricter edicts.

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Substitute Lee Peltier's scrambled goal from a corner 54 seconds after his interval introduction - and 12 minutes before his injury exit - had offered the Millers a glimmer of something and 3-2 would have made things very interesting.

Instead, debutant Cafu headed for the players' tunnel shaking his head and taking the last, tiny vestige of hope with him.

"If that's a yellow card ..." Taylor was so incredulously frustrated he couldn't even finish his sentence.

The eventual 4-1 scoreline didn't flatter the Potters in any way and the boss made no attempt to hide from that fact. The only whitewashing as he faced the media afterwards came from the walls of the small, austere room just off the players' tunnel in which he was standing.

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"We could have a whole host of excuses but that doesn't hide what the performance was in the first half," he said. "We can move better, we can move faster, we can be better when we get close to the ball.

"Stoke just played through, round and over us too often. It would be wrong to point the finger at certain positions on the pitch. I can't put it down to the backline or the goalkeeper. They actually defended the box quite well at times, bar the goals. Collectively, we weren't good enough."

Lee Peltier scores but later had to go off injured.

Stoke ran hard, Stoke ran fast, Stoke took care of the ball. The surname of their frontman, Ryan Mmaee, reads like a stutter but his smooth link-up play rolled off the pitch as he helped City speed down both flanks into the gaps behind the Millers' wing-backs.

Soon after kick-off, Josh Laurent crossed from the left and Ki-Jana Hoever crashed in a sweet, 16-yard volley off the underside of the bar.

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With the break approaching, a header back across goal from a free-kick gave Andre Vidigal a tap-in and the same player was quickly on target again, taking advantage of an unlucky slip on a wet surface by goalkeeper Viktor Johansson to whip the ball home with the help of a post.

Sean Morrison's industrial method of stopping Jacob Brown after being 'done' for pace had led to the second goal and the captain found himself watching second-half proceedings from the bench as the Millers ditched their 3-5-2 shape.

"I didn't want to do it," Taylor said. "I felt it was the right thing to do. We shifted to a back four. I could have taken off various players.

"He'd been booked, plus he wouldn't have played a full match anyway. You always have to do what you feel is right for the team. You take everything into account. That was the most sensible decision at that time."

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There was too much of some things in this game, not enough of others: too many referee interventions, too many extra minutes, not enough application or cohesion from the Millers.

True, they had three players making their debuts, but then Stoke had nine and managed well enough.

Johansson denied Vidigal his hat-trick in the 90th minute and there was still time for Brown to compound Rotherham's misery by converting at the back post.

His close-range finish meant that Taylor's men were on the wrong end of a bigger defeat than any they suffered in the league at this level all last season.

Back indoors, the boss was still wrapped up in his coat.

But that stat will have made him shiver a little.

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Stoke (4-3-3): Mark Travers; Ki-Jana Hoever, Michael Rose, Ben Wilmot, Enda Stevens; Josh Laurent, Ben Pearson (Jordan Thompson 79), Daniel Johnson (Sol Sidibe,90); Jacob Brown, Ryan Mmaee (Chiquinho 75), Andre Vidigal (Wesley 90). Subs not used: Jack Bonham, Josh Tymon, Luke McNally, David Okagbue, Nathan Lowe.

Rotherham (3-5-1-1): Viktor Johansson; Cameron Humphreys, Sean Morrison (Lee Peltier H-T, Lembikisa 58), Tyler Blackett; Fred Onyedinma (Josh Kayode 79), Ollie Rathbone (Jamie McCart 79), Hakeem Odoffin, Cafu, Cohen Bramall; Ben Wiles; Jordan Hugill (Georgie Kelly 63). Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Tolaji Bola, Ciaran McGuckin, Josh Ayres.

Goals: Hoever 5, Vidigal 45+2, 45+7, Brown 90 (Stoke); Peltier 46 (Rotherham).

Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire).

Attendance: 22,601 (1,672).