Dundee United manager Craig Levein praised "maverick'' Danny Swanson for his discipline as the midfielder helped inspire a 2-0 victory over Hearts.
The 22-year-old got United's Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaign off to the perfect start when he won a third-minute penalty after cutting inside Eggert Jonsson.
Danny Cadamarteri converted the spot-kick and added a late second on the break to win the sponsor's champagne but Levein was quick to hail Swanson's contribution.
All but seven of Swanson's 34 appearances last season came from the bench but Levein was delighted to see the former Berwick player hold the team's shape on the left of midfield.
"For me, that was Danny Swanson's best performance for us by a mile,'' Levein said. "He has done some great things in games but his positioning on the field was as good as it's been since he's been here. ''That pleases me because at times he is a bit of a maverick and I struggled last year to get him in the team, not being able to fit in with the rest of the things that have gone on."
The only mark against Swanson was a booking for his reaction to a bad foul by Ian Black, which prompted Levein to take him off. "They were lining up to kick him, three of them had a go at him,'' the United boss said. "He was getting tired and he's a feisty wee boy and I was a wee bit scared he was going to get involved in something he didn't need to.
"He's not the type of player that needs to win tackles and bully people because that's not what he's good at. ''His game is about getting the ball and trying to create opportunities or score goals. He can hurt teams by doing that rather than kicking them. "I'm really pleased with him because he had a good pre-season and showed that, and not just for Dundee United supporters, he is a breath of fresh air.''
Hearts forced several good saves from Nicky Weaver before the break but they had a mountain to climb after Michael Stewart received his second yellow card in the 52nd minute.
Manager Csaba Laszlo claimed his new skipper's red card was only a "small mistake'' and was relatively satisfied with his team's overall display ahead of Thursday's Europa League play-off first leg at Dinamo Zagreb.
"The performance was not so bad,'' he said. "We had some good chances, the team was very aggressive. ''But we lost three points because of mistakes. We made a mistake after three minutes and the second goal was a big indiscipline from one player.
"Against Zagreb it's a different game. I'm very unsatisfied about the situation that we must play on Monday. This is my biggest problem but it can't be changed.''