CALEY Thistle began the new Scottish Premier League campaign with defeat at Motherwell.
Inverness manager Terry Butcher handed full SPL debuts to summer arrivals Tom Aldred, Andrew Shinnie, Greg Tansey and Gregory Tade, while Graeme Shinnie was fit enough to take his place amongst the substitutes.
Motherwell had the better of the early exchanges, Jamie Murphy and new signing Nicky Law both just a yard the wrong side of Ryan Esson's left-hand post with their respective efforts..
It took Caley Thistle time to settle, but they came closest of all when a wonderful left-foot effort from 22 yards by Richie Foran thudded back off the upright.
The Irishman then spurned a wonderful chance minutes later as he collected Tade's knockdown only to blaze high over from 15 yards out when unmarked.
That miss was to prove costly as Motherwell struck twice in a devastating three-minute spell.
The first arrived in the 25th minute. Chris Humphrey's cross narrowly evaded the head of Michael Higdon, but it fell kindly to Steven Hammell at the back post and his first time effort fizzed past Esson.
Hammell then turned provider moments later sending Jamie Murphy in on goal and he produced a composed finish from just inside the box that left Esson helpless.
Caley Thistle's luck appeared to be firmly out when approaching half-time Tansey smacked a 30-yard free-kick off the upright, before the same player forced a spectacular point-blank save from Darren Randolph following good work by Tade.
Hammell, however, almost had the final say of an entertaining first half, forcing Esson into a save after a one-two with Murphy.
Inverness attempted to force the issue after the interval with Butcher making an attacking change, Shane Sutherland replacing Shinnie.
The substitute did have an opportunity to halve the deficit, but weakly shot high and wide after being set up by Foran.
Motherwell now seemed happy to hit on the counter and Murphy had a searing effort that just missed the far corner following Higdon's clever pass over the top.
With 13 minutes to go, the hosts eventually made the game and the points safe courtesy of Keith Lasley's stunning strike from 25 yards that crashed into the top corner of Esson's goal.
MOTHERWELL - Randolph; Hateley, Hammell, Hutchinson, Craigan, Lasley, Humphrey, Jennings, Higdon (Smith, 83), Murphy, Law. Subs unused: Saunders, McHugh, Halsman, Lawless, Carswell, Hollis. Booked - Hutchinson, Lasley, Jennings.
CALEY THISTLE - Esson; Proctor, Gillet, Tokely, Aldred, Tansey, Hayes, A. Shinnie (Sutherland, 61), Foran, Tade (G. Shinnie, 80), Ross. Subs unused: Morrison, Laing, Smith, Tuffey. Booked: Foran.
Referee: S. McLean.