Leicester lost only three games in their title-winning campaign last season but their opening 2-1 defeat at Hull on Saturday was a warning that life could be very different as champions rather than underdogs.
Their title triumph was built on a solid defence, an admirable team spirit, the industry of N’Golo Kante and the counter-attacking menace of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez while it also helped that they were underestimated by opponents.
But the defeat by Hull, as they became the first defending champions to lose their opening Premier League match, showed how things will be tougher this time around, particularly if Leicester’s key players can’t repeat last season’s heroics.
Boss Claudio Ranieri says: “This season will be harder than last
“Last season we showed ourselves as a very good team and we need to repeat that.”
Vardy missed two gilt-edged chances before Hull’s opener, as Leicester’s jittery defence were undone by Adama Diomande’s acrobatic overhead kick.
Mahrez, meanwhile, was anonymous apart from his penalty goal as a Paul Snodgrass scored the winner by taking advantage of the Foxes’ nerves in defence.
Ranieri adds: “We made a lot of effort today, but not as a team. Today, we played individually.”
Hull who defended resolutely and harried the champions, an early indicator of how teams are unlikely to underestimate Leicester and will raise their game against the champions.
Hull captain Curtis Davies says: “We had to leave the onus with them… [we] had nothing to lose.”