Andy Welsh paid tribute to his senior stars as City's youngsters opened their season by recovering from an early penalty to overcome Altrincham 2-1 at Moss Lane.
Craig Bellamy, Nedum Onuoha and Michael Johnson were all in the starting line-up that shrugged off a second-minute spot kick to win with goals by Kieran Trippier and Joan Angel Roman.
Coach Welsh said: "The senior players were excellent. Craig and Nedum were first class, Michael's still a bit rusty but he worked hard up the right hand side in the first half.
"We decided to mix it up with senior professionals and some young boys - Devante Cole came on for Craig in the second half and he's 16. I was pleased with how it went.
"I was also pleased with the response to a sloppy penalty after one and a half minutes. We never stopped passing the ball, and I was delighted with the way the game went after that."
Skipper Trippier, who scored the winner just before half time, admitted: "I Hit it well, but I had to. Bellers was screaming at the other side, so I didn't dare miss or I'd have got a rollicking.
"I told him that after I'd scored, and he was laughing his head off. It was good to have him out there, not just for me but for the lads out of the Academy. He's been great with the youngsters."
Seniors Wayne Bridge and Jo, both named in Welsh's original squad, missed out. He said: "They trained double yesterday. They were a little bit stiff when they came in and we decided not to risk them."
Trippier aims to make an impact this season: "My focus at the moment is on pre-season. But of course I'd consider another loan spell. I want to play games, and last season I played 35 at Barnsley."