London: Fulham's first half defensive implosion saw Wolverhampton Wanderers claim a deserved victory and race to the top of the preliminary Premier League table.
Mistakes from the visiting men just before the interval saw the grateful Kevin Doyle and Matt Jarvis claim the three points. The Cottagers rarely threatened and their leggy display will have raised questions about the worth of their lengthy Europa League qualifying exertions.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy kept faith with the same players that started the 2-1 opening day win at Blackburn Rovers. Winger Michael Kightly's latest return from a series of knee ligament problems saw him fit enough to be named on the substitute's bench.
Opposite number Martin Jol rewarded Pajtim Kasami with a start after his storming mid-week Europa League display against Dnipro Donetsk. The Switzerland youth international slotted into midfield as Clint Dempsey replaced Bobby Zamora, with the striker not even named in the matchday squad.
The five-minute delayed kick-off time due to traffic outside Molineux didn't hamper the host's Jamie O'Hara as he skillfully danced past the Fulham defence on the right flank in the third minute. The midfielder's threatening cross was nudged into the path of the onrushing Karl Henry on the edge of the penalty box by Philippe Senderos but the Swiss was able to stick out a giant leg and deflect the volley away for a corner.
A swift Fulham counter-attack in the 10th minute - after Brade Hangeland stole the ball from the toe of Doyle as the Irishman prepared strike from 15-yards - then saw Damien Duff shoot into the hands of the grateful Wayne Hennessey when well placed inside the area.
Referee Mike Dean then came to the forefront just before the half-hour mark after he waved away cries from Hangeland after Doyle appeared to barrel over the Norwegian inside his own area from a hopeful Stephen Ward punt up the field. The centre forward still had much work to do as he charged through from the left flank and could only shoot harmlessly over an open goal after he was forced to lean back after he sidestepped the alert Mark Schwarzer.
The Australian's dexterity was tested again just a minute later when he stretched his enormous frame to push away an outswinging O'Hara drive from 30-yards.
Fulham had defended stoically up to the 41-minute mark, but a lack of conviction from Kasami and John Arne Riise saw Doyle fire Wolves deservedly ahead. The pair stumbled into each other as they tried to clear a flat Jarvis corner and allowed the Republic of Ireland international to shoot high into Schwarzer's top-left corner.
Events then went from bad to worse for the away side in first-half injury time as Jarvis fired into an empty goal to double the lead after Schwarzer inexplicably charged out to meet a Stephen Hunt cross. New club captain Roger Johnson was denied a Molineux debut goal after his header bounced off the right-post into the path of the unmarked winger after he beat the shot stopper to the ball.
Dutchman Jol reacted to the double-blow by hooking the ineffectual Dickson Etuhu and Kasami at half-time for Steve Sidwell and Mousa Dembele. The Belgium international was involved in the 52nd minute move when Duff harmlessly half-volleyed Riise's cross into the ground after Dempsey's initial pickpocketing of the daydreaming Henry 25-yards from his own goal.
Wolves' first half stranglehold quickly resumed and Steven Fletcher and O'Hara both went close from distance just before the 65-minute mark.
Fulham resembled a side that had already played nine games since the end of June thanks to their Europa League qualifying exertions. All the verve from the players that brushed Dnipro aside had evidently been left behind in southwest London.
A mistake from the previously inculpable Hangeland in the 77th minute saw his headed clearance fall short into Hunt's path. The Irish firebrand swivelled into space and drew a fine save from Schwarzer from 20-yards.
Hennessey then had the bravery of Ward to thank for protecting his cleansheet in the 79th minute after he dove at the legs of Dempsey to prevent the American following up the goalkeeper's fumble from Andy Johnson's low-drive from the right of his area.
Wolves continued to keep Fulham at arms length for the rest of the contest. Upon the final whistle, Molineux exploded as McCarthy's men - temporarily at least - reached the Premier League summit.