Leicester’s Premier League title defence got off to an embarrassing start as the champions crashed to 2-1 defeat at troubled Hull in the season opener on Saturday.
Just three months after their astonishing title triumph, Claudio Ranieri’s side were brought back down to earth by a team whose preparations for the new campaign were marred by the resignation of manager Steve Bruce and their failure to sign a single player.
Adama Diomande gave Hull a first-half lead before Riyad Mahrez brought Leicester level with a penalty shortly after the interval.
Robert Snodgrass drove in the winner 12 minutes into the second half as a team in crisis on and off the pitch became the first to beat the defending English champions on opening day since Manchester United defeated Arsenal in 1989.
Hull have approached the season in a state of turmoil, with no permanent manager following Bruce’s resignation on July 22, and a thin squad stretched to its limits by injuries.
Caretaker manager Mike Phelan went into the game with just 13 fit senior players, and named a substitutes’ bench consisting largely of untried youngsters, including three teenagers.
Hull’s supporters have blamed owners Assem and Ehad Allam for a lack of investment in the squad, and graffiti calling for them to sell the club was found daubed on the outer walls of the stadium on Saturday morning.
As stewards hastily tried to paint over the vandalism before kick-off, supporters gathered outside to display banners and chant for the Allams to leave.
A Chinese consortium, led by businessmen Dai Yongge and Hawken Xi Liu, has expressed an interest in buying the club, and its key figures were at the match to watch the Premier League season begin.
Leicester were sharper for the opening 30 minutes, but were unable to capitalise on the chances they created, with Jamie Vardy a particular culprit.