Keane Lewis-Potter and Josh Magennis were on target as Hull City began the 2020/21 League One season with a comfortable win at Gillingham.
The Tigers dominated throughout and took a third-minute lead when Lewis-Potter turned in George Honeyman’s shot.
It was from a Honeyman free-kick that Magennis headed home City’s second with eight minutes remaining and it would have been more convincing but for some wasteful finishing.
The visitors started with nine of the 11 who lined up against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup last weekend.
The two changes saw Magennis and Lewis-Potter replace the injured Tom Eaves and Martin Samuelsen, who dropped to the bench.
And it was Lewis-Potter – on target in the midweek EFL Trophy tie against Leicester City U21s – who gave the Tigers a dream start inside three minutes.
Josh Emmanuel took Richie Smallwood’s lofted pass in his stride and accurately cut the ball back for Honeyman, whose first-time shot was turned in smartly by Lewis-Potter from six yards.
Gillingham almost equalised immediately as John Akinde beat the offside trap and ran through one-on-one but his right-footed effort from a narrow angle was straight at visiting custodian Matt Ingram.
Grant McCann’s men had made a composed start and Magennis went close to netting a spectacular second when his rasping 20-yard volley whistled inches wide.
Emmanuel was causing problems down the right and delivered a deep cross which Lewis-Potter headed down, the ball breaking for Honeyman to sting the palms of home stopper Jack Bonham.
Jordy de Wijs was next to threaten as the clock ticked past the half-hour mark, rising highest to meet Honeyman’s corner but his looping header drifted harmlessly over.
The Tigers were looking comfortable and should have made it 2-0 six minutes before half-time as Greg Docherty’s perseverance forced a mistake from defender Zach Medley deep in the Gills half.
The former Rangers man fed Mallik Wilks, who backheeled to Honeyman, but his first touch was heavy and allowed the home side to clear.
Another chance fell the visitors’ way in first half injury time, Docherty collecting Wilks’ backheel and seeing a shot saved by Bonham low to his left.
Hull City remained the more dangerous team at the start of the second half.
Wilks was unable to turn Honeyman’s free-kick towards goal before the former turned and fired a left-footed drive over the bar from 20 yards.
Gillingham rarely threatened Ingram's goal and instead it was the Tigers who continued to push forward.
Emmanuel’s cross from the right was met by the head of Magennis but his slow looping header was cleared off the line by Stuart O’Keefe.
The elusive second goal finally arrived eight minutes from time, Magennis glancing a delightful header into the bottom corner from Honeyman’s pinpoint free-kick.
Callum Jones was introduced in the dying stages for his league debut with City now in total control.
And it should have been 3-0 in stoppage time when Wilks rounded Bonham and picked out Lewis-Potter but ex-Tiger Robbie McKenzie was in the right place to make a crucial block.
Gillingham: Jack Bonham, Connor Ogilvie, Stuart O’Keefe, Zech Medley, Kyle Dempsey (Matty Willock 64’), Jordan Graham, Trae Coyle (Vadaine Oliver 45’), Robbie McKenzie, John Akinde, Jacob Mellis (Scott Robertson 45’), Christian Maghoma.
Subs Not Used: Joe Walsh, Jack Tucker, Alex MacDonald, Henry Woods.
Hull City: Matt Ingram; Josh Emmanuel, Reece Burke, Jordy de Wijs, Brandon Fleming; Richie Smallwood ©, Greg Doherty (Callum Jones 87’), George Honeyman (Daniel Batty 83’); Mallk Wilks, Josh Magennis (James Scott 83’), Keane Lewis-Potter.
Subs Not Used: Harvey Cartwright, Martin Samuelsen, Alfie Jones, Sean McLoughlin.
Referee: Mr A. Woolmer.