CITY were left counting the cost of an opening day that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

It should have been an afternoon of celebration watched by Valley Parade’s largest audience for football at the fourth level - the 14,000 season-ticket sales swelling the crowd figure beyond 19,000.

Instead, there was a feeling of bitterness and recrimination.

On the face of it, kicking off League Two with a goalless draw for the fourth year in a row is hardly the biggest body blow.

But the circumstances surrounding this hugely-frustrating encounter will gnaw away at the fans, players and the ones who pay their wages.

Thoughts are with Emmanuel Osadebe whose first season as a Bantam is effectively over before it had begun.

Just six minutes he lasted – and looked bright and lively in those – before a reckless follow-through from Ricky Ravenhill’s son Liam broke his right leg in two places.

In one fleeting moment, Osadebe was condemned to months out of action once he has undergone surgery in the coming days.

He will be in a pretty dark place right now and will need all the support of those around him to rally round.

From a cold-hearted business point of view, it also represents a significant financial setback for the club.

With Abo Eisa sidelined for a few more weeks yet, the short-term issue leaves them stretched very thin on wingers. It is the one position where the competition currently is light.

But given the outlay on recruitment that has gone on this summer, you’d expect them to be looking to off-load someone from the budget before trying to summon a potential replacement.

It is an unexpected and expensive headache for Ryan Sparks and owner Stefan Rupp, who was sat with his chief executive at the game. Some hard thinking will be needed in the coming days.

On the playing front, there was the further hindrance of Kian Harratt’s red card after the final whistle.

Tempers flared at Doncaster’s spoiling tactics and snapped in the young substitute’s case as he shoved keeper Johnny Mitchell right under the referee’s nose.

Mitchell may have been the chief protagonist, according to Mark Hughes, in the tactics on display but Harratt gave Bobby Madden the excuse to “level things up” after the ridiculous earlier dismissal of Lee Tomlin.

For that momentary loss of control, City will be without the young striker for the next three games. Jake Young, who did not make the cut for the bench, offers immediate cover but it was one more sucker punch that Hughes could have done without.

It was not how the season’s curtain-raiser was meant to pan out after a summer of building hope and expectation. But what is it they say about best laid plans?

The terrific wall of noise that had greeted the players, reinforced by a near-2,000 travelling contingent, reminded them what is on the line for the next 10 months.

Then there was the image of some of the club’s greatest luminaries on a giant flag that had been organised by the City Vent group on Twitter.

It was like the Bantam equivalent of Mount Rushmore – Bobby Campbell, Stuart McCall, Gary Jones, Ces Podd, Stephen Darby and FA Cup-winning captain Jimmy Speirs all looking down from the Kop as they were passed above the heads of the fans.

For Hughes and his players, their mission is to emulate some of that past glory by securing only a second promotion this century.

Facing an opponent freshly out of League One was the acid test for starters. Throw in the Yorkshire derby element and this was as big a day one as the fixture list could throw up in this God-forsaken division.

At least, we had a referee who could handle the biggest of stages – or so we thought.

Madden’s experience of handling over 1,000 games in Scotland, including Old Firm derbies and cup finals, promised an official who would not be blinded by the lights for once.

But he never got a grip on the game from start to finish.

Ravenhill’s loss of control in the tackle should have seen red. When it didn’t, 90 per cent of the crowd very much did and the tone was set.

Doncaster’s approach, from that point, bordered on the theatrical – dropping to the canvas like WWE wrestlers at the slightest contact.

It clearly worked because they got what they came for but made for an ugly watch.

There is a word that aptly sums up the tactics on display – “housery” will have to suffice in a family newspaper.

The visitors sussed pretty early that the referees’ memo about clamping down on time-wasting this season had not reached Madden.

Play became stop-start and then stop as Doncaster used every trick in the box to ensure there was no flow whatsoever to proceedings.

They hinted at a threat on the counter once or twice through George Miller’s pace. But the door was swiftly slammed shut by City’s solid backline, led by the composed and elegant figure of Romoney Crichlow.

What little attacking intent Rovers had brought from south Yorkshire was packed away completely once Tomlin had been dismissed in almost comical fashion just before half-time.

His stupidity in blocking a free-kick by kicking the ball away, not once but twice, was compounded with a plunge to the floor after Jamie Walker’s cute blind-side contact with his foot.

From that point, Doncaster pulled up the drawbridge and put 10 behind the ball.

City, for all their possession and patience with the ball, lacked the guile to plot a way through. The tally of 20 out of 22 efforts off target tells the story.

Full backs Brad Halliday and Liam Ridehalgh spent more time in the opposing half than their own but the final delivery on the overlap lacked sufficient quality.

Vadaine Oliver battled gamely up top but found himself too often smothered by the powerful pairing of centre halves Joseph Olowu and Roshaun Williams.

In fact, Olowu nearly sneaked it for the visitors with a header from a corner that Harry Lewis did well to tip away. Fair play to the City keeper’s concentration level to protect his debut clean sheet when suddenly called upon out of nothing.

City came closest through skipper Richie Smallwood, who tried to cap a commanding display in midfield with a free-kick that rattled the right-hand post.

But otherwise, it was a teeth-gnashing exercise; an attritional afternoon of angst and annoyance. Yeah, football is back.