Joe Ford's late drop goal secured a surprise 22-16 victory for Sale Sharks over Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday.
After finishing last season in fifth position, hopes were high that the Cherry and Whites would challenge for a play-off position.
However, the hosts lacked continuity throughout the first half as the 2012/13 strugglers notched up a 14-3 half-time lead through Mark Cueto's try and the respective boots of Nick Macleod and Tom Arscott.
Andy Forsyth's controversial touchdown increased the Sharks' advantage, but the West Country outfit reduced the arrears to 19-16 through Henry Trinder and the kicking accuracy of Freddie Burns. Nevertheless, Sale held on for an impressive win after Joe Ford's drop-goal.
Despite narrowly avoiding relegation to the Championship the previous year, Sale were impressive early on and moved into a 8-0 lead.
Macleod kicked a penalty before a fine attack ended in Cueto touching down. Burns then reduced the arrears from the tee, but successive long-range three-pointers by Arscott gave them a shock 14-3 half-time buffer.
It was a similar story at the start of the second period as Gloucester struggled to find their rhythm, and the Sharks duly scored their second try of the afternoon.
However, it came in controversial circumstances. Former Leicester centre Forsyth appeared to be ahead of Cueto's kick, but the Television Match Official awarded the score, much to the dismay of the home side.
Billy Twelvetrees was then sin-binned for the hosts and it all seemed to be going wrong for Nigel Davies' men.
But from nowhere Henry Trinder took a superb line to touch down to take the score to 19-10.
Burns then added two three-pointers, but it wasn't to be as Joe Ford sealed the win with a drop-goal.
Pens: Burns 3
Yellow Card: Twelvetrees
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Cueto, Forsyth
Pens: Macleod, Arscott 2
Drop Goal: Ford
Yellow Card: Harrison
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Lua Lokotui, 4 Tom Savage (capt), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Sale Sharks: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil McKenzie, 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Jonny Leota, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Johnathan Mills, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kirill Kulemin, 20 Josh Beaumont, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Rob Miller.
Referee: Andrew Small