This was a beginning with a past.
But this time, the Ducks did not have the upper hand.
A season after upsetting the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Ducks lost their season-opening game to the Sharks, 4-1, in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 17,281 at the Honda Center.
An early fight hinted at the history between the teams. But the Sharks -- who lost, 5-2, to Colorado in their opening game Thursday -- seemed more intent on this season's business, jumping on the Ducks early and never relenting.
"We didn't play nearly the game we are capable of playing," Ducks center Todd Marchant said. "It's disappointing, certainly, being it was your home opener and you're playing against one of the teams you consider one of your rivals."
The Sharks took a 3-0 lead in the first period with the help of a short-handed goal by Patrick Marleau at 16:46 after rookie Benn Ferriero scored at 7:30 of the first. Joe Thornton added another goal on an odd-man rush at 18:23.
The Sharks' special-teams' edge showed again in the second period when Devin Setoguchi scored on a power play at 4:32.
It was hard to pin the goals on Jonas Hiller, the Ducks' starting goalie. A bigger concern is the state of the special teams and a defense that lost Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin in the off-season, plus an offensive attack that went ice-cold in the second period, managing only two shots.
As if the Ducks need any reminders about Pronger -- traded to Philadelphia in June -- they'll see him this week on their upcoming four-game trip after the cameo appearance at home.
Much of the off-season focus was on adding secondary scoring after losing to Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals.
The efforts didn't much show, particularly in the second period, when the Ducks didn't manage a shot on goal until the final two minutes.
"We were better in the third," defenseman Scott Niedermayer said, but he cited "some bad plays" with the puck that cost the Ducks early.
The Ducks didn't score their first goal of the season until 10:36 of the third, when Ryan Whitney's shot from the right point on the power play beat Evgeni Nabokov.
Nabokov -- pressured by the Ducks in the third -- made 24 saves to earn his first win after giving up five goals in the opener.
Tempers flared between the teams in the third, with a scrum that resulted in a slew of penalties, including a game misconduct for the Sharks' Doug Murray.
But with a two-day jump on the season, the Sharks seemed intent on not letting a second consecutive game get away. Marleau, stripped of the captain's "C" during the off-season, notched his third goal in the two games.
Dany Heatley, the former 50-goal scorer acquired from Ottawa last month, contributed two assists after going without a point in his San Jose debut.
"They were ready," said Ducks center Saku Koivu, signed in the off-season to bolster the second-line scoring. "The first night is never easy, but the way we played tonight was not acceptable."
Come Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn., the Ducks will be trying to put their opener behind them too.
"They played the game at a higher pace than we did, that's for sure," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "Their motivation was last year, what happened in the playoffs. They weren't very happy with what happened the other night, and their response was appropriate."