Thierry Henry’s debut ended in disappointment as Barcelona were held to a goalless draw by 10-man Racing Santander on Sunday.
Nou Camp coach Frank Rijkaard started with last season’s trusted trident of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and Leo Messi, although Henry came off the bench and almost won it late on with an effort which came back off the post.
But despite their hosts having their own debut striker – Ebi Smolarek – sent off for a cynical foul on Eric Abidal, Barca were unable to find a winner.
In the day’s most eventful match, Villarreal continued from where they left off last season with a comprehensive 3-0 derby win over nine-man Valencia.
In a battle between last season’s fourth and fifth-placed sides, the Yellow Submarine earned a victory which took their run to nine consecutive La Liga wins.
Denmark striker Jon Dahl Tomasson opened the scoring in the 17th minute and after Valencia’s own cultured marksman David Villa was given a second yellow card for a dive just before the break, Villarreal doubled their advantage through debutant Giuseppe Rossi’s second-half penalty.
Shortly after that their opponents lost Joaquin to another red card before Santi Cazorla completed the rout.
Elsewhere, Recreativo Huelva proved last season was no one-off as they dominated Real Betis in a lively 1-1 draw.
Recre only narrowly missed out on a European spot in their first season back in the Spanish top flight but despite losing their coach and several top players, they enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and chances against last campaign’s strugglers Betis.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle fired them into the lead and they were unlucky to only earn a point after Victoriano Nano equalised four minutes before the break.
Ariel Ibagaza scored twice as Real Mallorca started their season with a bang, defeating Levante 3-0.
Ibagaza began the scoring with a penalty midway through the first half and after new recruit Daniel Guiza doubled the lead after 57 minutes, Ibagaza grabbed his second with 18 minutes remaining.
Espanyol slipped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against newly-promoted Real Valladolid.
In the 54th minute, Daniel Kome charged down the right and pulled the ball back from the byline to a grateful Joseba Llorente, who blasted home from close range.
Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna saw out a 0-0 stalemate, Aitor Ocio’s last-minute red card the only meaningful action, while Almeria enjoyed a wonderful return to the Primera Liga with a stunning 3-0 success at Deportivo La Coruna.
Alvaro Negredo handed the visitors a 19th-minute lead which Fernando Soriano doubled 11 minutes from half-time before Albert Crusat settled the contest in the 50th minute.