Rochdale boss Keith Hill saluted hat-trick hero Matt Done after his "brave" team selection conjured up a surprise 5-2 victory at Crewe Alexandra.
Dale earned their first win the campaign in style at Gresty Road and stand-in striker Done scored his first career treble as the pace and clever play of the visiting attack tormented a tame Alex defence.
"I took a risk with my team and perhaps people may have looked at my starting line-up and thought I had gone mad," admitted Hill, whose options were limited by injuries to four senior players.
"But it was risk and reward and while there was a massive risk with that side we came up with a plan.
"After our nervous start we were invigorated and the players got their reward.
"I was delighted with Matty's performance, his energy and enthusiasm. It was a great hat-trick."
Rochdale's problems had seen Hill sign keeper Conrad Logan on an emergency loan deal from Leicester before the game to cover for Josh Lillis. But the 29-year-old must have wandered what he was letting himself in for when he was picking the ball out of the net after just nine minutes at Gresty Road.
Marcus Haber, making his first start for the Railwaymen, broke clear on the right of the box and fired an angled effort home.
But Dale emerged from their defensive shell and were the slicker of the two early-season strugglers by the time Peter Vincenti headed into the sidenetting.
They levelled in the 31st minute when Jamie Allen dispossessed Manchester City loanee Greg Leigh in the visiting half and ran to the byline to cross for Ian Henderson to finish from close range.
And when Crewe failed to clear their lines from a corner, Henderson was handily placed to relay the ball across the face of goal for a simple tap-in for Done three minutes before the interval.
When Done raced clear to extend Rochdale's lead in the 52nd minute, taking Allen's through ball and firing across Ben Garrett, Crewe looked out for the count.
Yet Haber cut the defecit seven minutes later when he glanced home Matt Tootle's cross.
But Ben Garratt, a surprise inclusion in goal place of the experienced Scott Shearer, was picking the ball out of his net for a fourth time in the 63rd minute when Henderson set up Vincenti, whose fierce drive flew through the 20-year-old's arms.
And he could do nothing to keep out another blast from Done as the 26-year-old completed his hat-trick in the 69th minute when he skipped clear on the left of the box.
Crewe's misery was complete when substitute Vadaine Oliver's late header was kept out by Logan to cap a fine display by the loanee.
Crewe manager Steve Davis admitted: "My players are stunned. We were really poor defensively and we couldn't cope with the quickness of their front two.
"It seems stupid but going forward some of our football was really good and we scored twice and could have had more. But the problems were at the other end.
"I didn't see that coming, I didn't see a five coming against Rochdale on Tuesday night. I had been looking at the front players in terms of making changes and not the back players."