DERBY County are the big unknowns in Sky Bet League One this season, but it is also hard to predict what we will get from Oxford United.

A starting XI featuring just one debutant looked very familiar, yet the U's showed a side of their game that was often missing last term.

United looked far more solid than on many occasions in 2021/22, although for all their attacking talent they failed to consistently threaten the Derby defence.

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With the Rams line-up boasting seven debutants thanks to their squad overhaul following last month’s club-saving takeover, it made for a closely-fought contest that could have gone either way.

Both sets of fans were relishing this opening-day clash for different reasons and the atmosphere lived up to the anticipation.

A crowd of more than 31,000 supporters added to the intensity on a day that showed why League One increasingly feels like Championship Two.

Karl Robinson wanted United to be more secure than last season and the 4-2-3-1 formation reflected this, with Marcus McGuane getting another start in holding midfield.

The 23-year-old has always appeared better suited further forward, but he produced a strong, disciplined display that could set the tone for a big season.

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Two more players that could make a difference in the campaign ahead are Billy Bodin and Marcus Browne, who would both surely be playing at a higher level if it were not for injuries.

They were key to United's best spell, which fell roughly between the 15th and 35th minutes, and there was very little to choose between the teams until the hour mark.

But with both sides lacking firepower on the bench the first goal was always crucial.

The one substitute to make a real difference was Derby’s Louie Sibley and his introduction helped shift the momentum as United, who could not call on a similar impact player, began to tire.

A draw would not have been undeserved for the U's, but their opponents certainly finished strongest and showed their quality with Conor Hourihane's winning goal.

GALLERY: Pictures of Oxford United fans at Derby

Alex Gorrin held his hands up for a positioning error that allowed the former Aston Villa midfielder to take a touch and pick his spot, with the Spanish midfielder still getting up to speed after injury.

It showed what United still need in the final month of the transfer window. Robinson pinpointed another central midfielder, plus a winger and a striker that would allow the U's to take advantage of the return of the rule allowing five substitutions per match.

The latter position is arguably most important with Matty Taylor looking isolated up front and Sam Baldock not due back until September.

There are positives to take, though, and United show signs they can mount another promotion challenge if they get those last few signings over the line.

They are far from the finished article - no team is on the opening day - but there are some good foundations to build on.