Cumbrian men 1, Crypto bros 0. This was a victory for the traditional over the new-fangled, for substance over…well, it’s not quite clear what yet.

On and off the field, it will be a while before the modern Crawley Town establish their place. Until then, they may have things to learn from Carlisle United and the muscular way Paul Simpson’s team set about them here.

Let’s not dwell much on the off-field bits, principally the visiting cryptocurrency owners' really bright pre-match idea to promote some awkwardly banal pre-match gibberings about the Blues from a man in a devil costume (if you’re not on Twitter, that will have been a really weird sentence to read).

News and Star: Kristian Dennis, left, celebrates the winnerKristian Dennis, left, celebrates the winner

Ok, let’s dwell a little. Ha, ha, ha, and indeed, ha, ha, ha.

That about covers it. So, the football. Crawley were, in this drizzly opening-day game, the product of semi-complete tactical refinement; a side who know what they want to do but aren’t yet there by a fair old way.

Carlisle, by contrast, look further down their own road – something Simpson hoped would prove the case in this first match of 46. United knew exactly what Crawley’s intentions would be and, in some forceful spells, imposed themselves decisively.

News and Star: Ryan Edmondson on the ball as Jack Armer and Owen Moxon also drive forwardRyan Edmondson on the ball as Jack Armer and Owen Moxon also drive forward

All that the Blues weren’t was clinical. In every other respect, the evidence of Simpson’s scheming – the fitness, the energy, the “structure”, the aggressive pressing – was as clear as a bell.

As Crawley persisted in playing from the back in the manner of a side set on a heavily prescribed Plan A, Simmo’s tuned-up, sharp-elbowed team went for them. They won the ball in the visitors’ half and spun back their way time and again. They bothered an early goal out of Betsy’s team and might easily have scored more.

Simpson, you can be sure, will be hot on their failure to do so. But he will assess that flaw from a position of broad satisfaction. This, by and large, was a performance that reeked of United knowing what they are doing.

News and Star: Crawley's sub keeper Addai leaps for the ballCrawley's sub keeper Addai leaps for the ball

Defensively, they were familiar, ordered, strong. Their midfield was busy and probing. Out wide, they were pleasingly forceful. Up front, they were also emphatic in many ways, even if Kristian Dennis’s fifth-minute finish was the beginning and end of the scoring.

It was a case of consistent pre-season toil and organisation lapping over into the serious stuff, in a style that has significantly not abandoned the old-school essentials of League Two graft and hard running in the name of tactical modelling.

This latest version of the Blues may not hit every right note along the way – their squad size, as Simpson said, also needs more work – but they are not going to fail through flaky instruction or lukewarm intent.

News and Star: Owen Moxon tackles Teddy JenksOwen Moxon tackles Teddy Jenks

Nor do many in the ground need to figure out how they feel about the man running the show. Simpson may be the most popular manager in the fourth tier right now, and Saturday was more evidence of how a clean, fresh wave of support might propel Carlisle in 2022/23.

The first hint of their vigour came in the fourth minute, when Fin Back overlapped and forced a chance for Ryan Edmondson. A minute later, Carlisle’s bodies around the Crawley box brought a helpful ricochet off Owen Moxon, allowing Dennis to score.

That really lit Carlisle’s fuse. Crawley’s early passing shapes grew more wobbly. For most of the next half-hour, they barely made it past halfway. United did not so much seize the initiative as hold it hostage.

News and Star: Jordan Gibson on the ballJordan Gibson on the ball

From Moxon, on a fine Football League debut in midfield, there was a series of testing corners and searching passes. From Callum Guy, some adept work in the uglier and linking sides of Carlisle’s game. From Jordan Gibson, some bright stuff indeed in the number ten zone. From Back, on the right, persistent footwork and a dogged resolve.

From Dennis, the fruits of experience in his subtle, early attacking movement, while the taller figure Edmondson did the line-leading graft. From all of them: a sense of understanding and connectedness as they forced mistakes and whipped forward.

If this side can find a colder eye in the box, games like this will be won more serenely. Here, chances went agonisingly away from Back and Moxon, with Dennis skimming another close, Guy lifting a one-two finish over the bar, Gibson dribbling magnificently down the middle to no avail and Edmondson backheeling a follow-up wide.

News and Star: Man of the match Fin Back brings the ball forwardMan of the match Fin Back brings the ball forward

It was, later in the half, easier to glimpse Crawley’s quality, as United moved into a deeper defensive base. James Tilley was an eyes-up threat on the left while Dom Telford, just before the break, found dangerous pockets around the box.

The best they mustered, though, was a Tilley effort that skimmed the outside of the post, and a drop of the shoulder from Telford who cleared the top corner.

The warning seemed plain, but never became more threatening. Carlisle resumed as the stronger force and, in a second half dotted by substitutions, could, should, have scored again, through Dennis, Jack Armer, Gibson, Dennis again and Morgan Feeney while, later on, Omari Patrick got a good loosener in the last half-hour, showing the dangerous pace we know will be a real weapon once he’s up to full tilt.

News and Star: Sub Corey Whelan breaks into the boxSub Corey Whelan breaks into the box

The closing stages were notable for more Carlisle chances – Edmondson denied by the offside flag – and the dearth of proper Crawley ones. Feeney, Ben Barclay and Jon Mellish were excellent at centre-half, and by the time Dion Conroy’s injury-time header dropped wide, the game was up.

“Why do we hate them?” the devil chap had asked of Carlisle. How good of the Blues to oblige him with some proper reasons.