WATFORD flexed their promotion muscles on the opening day at Vicarage Road, while Wanderers simply fluffed their lines.
Nothing went right for Dougie Freedman’s side, who contributed to their own downfall with some inept defending.
Freedman had picked out the returning Matej Vydra and his sought-after strike partner Troy Deeney as the men to stop – but watched on in horror as the Hornets front men helped themselves.
Both Vydra and Deeney scored in the first half before Fernando Forestieri added a third. In truth, it could have been more.
Dean Moxey’s Wanderers career could hardly have got off to a more inauspicious start as, with his first touch on 15 seconds, he played an under-hit backpass to Andy Lonergan which presented a golden chance to Troy Deeney. Thankfully on this occasion the Watford striker was feeling charitable, hitting only the side netting.
His eye was in, however, and it wasn’t long before a goal did arrive. A long pass from the back by Gabriele Angella caught Tim Ream and Matt Mills flat-footed and Deeney was able to lift the bouncing ball over the advancing Lonergan into the net.
Worse was to come, and Watford were two up in 24 minutes as another pass from the back – this time from Daniel Tozser – found Vydra in space. He beat Ream rather too easily and placed the ball past Lonergan.
Wanderers fans cried for the manager to “sort it out” and Medo Kamara nearly obliged, striking his side’s only real effort at goal just over the bar with 10 minutes left in the half.
Freedman opted to bring Darren Pratley off at the break for wide man Liam Feeney and for the first five minutes his arrival seemed to have sparked something.
Jay Spearing went incredibly close with a deflected drive and the levels of belief behind the goal suddenly started to rise.
Watford’s onslaught had not finished, however, and after Ecuadorian right-back Juan Carlos Paredes rattled the woodwork with Lonergan beaten, the home side should have put the game to bed completely.
The first was created by Deeney – playing the kind of football that has made him such a wanted man at Premier League level. He skipped past the hapless Moxey to play a low cross into the box, stabbed wide by Abdi.
Lonergan then denied the same player with his legs, as Wanderers defence was torn open once again.
That passage of play proved the end for Moxey, substituted for centre-half Dorian Dervite, with Ream moved across to full-back.
Wanderers picked up again and had either Craig Davies’s fierce volley or Chung-Yong Lee’s clever chip beaten Heurelho Gomes, we might have had a game on our hands.
Jermaine Beckford also had a chance, swiping at Chung-Yong’s cross within seconds of his arrival but making no connection.
Fellow sub Fernando Forestieri showed him how it was done, capitalising on some lead-footed defending by Dervite to slide home the third.
The Italian could have helped himself to another before the end, tripping up over the ball after being played clean in on goal.