Japanese side Gamba Osaka proved too strong for Adelaide United, running out 3-0 winners in the opening match of Group H in the Asian Champions League at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday night.
Against the club they lost the 2008 Champions League final to, Adelaide struggled from early on in front of just more than 5,000 fans.
Gamba showed their tactical nous and created plenty of problems for United as they switched their formations in defence in attack.
The Reds struggled to contain the visitors and in particular Oh Jaesuk, whose cross led to the opening goal on 21 minutes, when striker Shun Nagasawa rose highest between Michael Marrone and Dylan McGowan to direct a powerful header past Reds 'keeper John Hall.
The goal sparked United into action and they enjoyed a purple patch with Ben Garuccio coming to life on the left.
He combined nicely with skipper Tarek Elrich on the half-hour as the pair worked through the Gamba defence, but Garuccio's cutback was steered clear by Jaesuk.
Garuccio remained involved and had a shot expertly saved by Masaaki Higashiguchi, but for all of Adelaide's endeavour to find an equaliser, it was Gamba who found the net and doubled their advantage in first-half stoppage time, courtesy of Yasuyuki Konno.
United enjoyed most of the possession in the second half but failed to find a way through the well-organised Gamba side.
Jordan O'Doherty had a great chance to pull a goal back before the hour when he reacted quickest to a loose ball inside the area, but the midfielder blasted over the bar.
Reds' new signing Baba Diawara was introduced on 65 minutes but had little impact as Gamba added a third in the final 10 minutes courtesy of a free kick from Yashuhito Endo.
The Gamba legend, who had bossed the midfield for the entire clash, whipped in a free kick from the right and it was misjudged by Hall and ricocheted off McGowan into the empty net.
Gamba Osaka coach Kenta Hasegawa said it was a crucial start for his side's ACL campaign.
"In the Champions League there is only six games so winning one-by-one is important," he said. "Getting the three points in the first game, especially away is a very good start."
Reds coach Guillermo Amor felt Gamba's big match experience was too much for United.
"They are a strong team, we know," he said. "It's a big team, they have good players and the experience is very important in this competition."