The Valerien Ismael era is up and running in impressive fashion after Watford swept aside a poor Queens Park Rangers side 4-0 to open the new Championship season in superb style and bring a smile back to Vicarage Road.

The Hornets had the points in the bag by the interval after first-half goals from Tom Dele-Bashiru, Imran Louza, Matheus Martins and Vakoun Bayo, but it was the manner of how the hosts went about their work that offers a very encouraging opening-game platform to build from.

There were a lot of questions going into the game given the significant changes that have happened since the disappointments of last season, but any pre-match apprehensions were very quickly settled as Dele-Bashiru capitalised on a superb pass from Louza to fire the Hornets in front inside the first minute.

That set the tone for an excellent first-half performance that set a standard for how Watford will go about their work under Ismael.

The work ethic and attitude was positive, the players clearly knew what their jobs were both individually and collectively, while the invention and creativity about their attacking play was both enjoyable and refreshing to behold.

Jeremy Ngakia and James Moris both looked comfortable when they moved into inverted full-back roles, and with Francisco Sierralta effective as a pivot in front of the central defenders, it enabled their side to get forward in numbers.

Louza doubled the Hornets tally with a delightful curling finish into the far corner and was to tease the visitors throughout with his quality on the ball, Martins made it three with a flicked header and Bayo tapped in the fourth after the ball had been put on a plate for him by Sierralta.

Rangers were a shambolic mess at times in the first half and could easily have conceded more, but that shouldn’t detract from the quality of what their opponents served up at times.

The second-half performance didn’t reach the goal-scoring heights of the opening 52 minutes – longer periods of additional time will become the new norm – they were always comfortable and may feel they should have won by a bigger margin.

Sterner tests will follow and future opponents will have noted the way Watford look to play from the back and seek to set traps, but the manner of the performance can only fuel the Hornets’ confidence going forward.

Although the Hornets had made six signings since the end of last season, the returning Martins was the only one to make the starting XI for Ismael’s Championship game as head coach.

Ngakia got the nod over Ryan Andrews at right-back, while Morris started at left-back as Jamal Lewis was not ready for selection following his season-long loan move from Newcastle United.

Sierralta, as he has done during pre-season, was selected as a midfield pivot in front of Ryan Porteous and Wesley Hoedt, while Ken Sema and Bayo made up the front three alongside Martins.

Watford would have been hoping to start strongly, but few would have expected them to take the lead inside the opening minute – in fact, it took them a shade over 30 seconds.

Porteous played the ball to Bayo with his back to goal, he laid it off to Louza, who hit a lovely left-footed pass on the turn through to Dele-Bashiru, who had split the Hoops defence, and he calmly slid the ball through Asmir Begovic to get the Hornets’ campaign off to a flying start.

Bayo had played a part in the build-up to that goal and he could have made it two in the ninth minute when his downward header was kept out by Begovic after the under-lapping Morris had crossed from the left.

Morris and Ngakia popping up in inverted full-back roles had been one of the features of the Hornets’ early play and it was to work a treat in the 20th minute when the Hornets doubled their lead in delightful fashion.

On this occasion it was Ngakia who went into a more central role, playing the ball to Louza who advanced before curling a superb low left-footed effort past Begovic and into the far corner to make it 2-0.

Despite being in command, Watford remained on the front foot, their next opening coming when Ngakia swung over a left-footed cross from the right which Bayo headed over the top.

With an increasingly loud chorus of boos emanating from the visiting fans, Rangers were almost picked apart again when Porteous released Ngakia with a fine pass over the top which the rampaging right-back tried to squeeze beneath Begovic at his near post, but the keeper was able to push the ball behind from a corner.

The pressure continued with the set-piece though, Hoedt seeing a shot parried back to him by Begovic before the Dutchman’s header was glanced narrowly wide by Sierralta.

Louza had the visitors bamboozled again when his lovely lofted pass into the area was met on the volley by Dele-Bashiru, but Begovic denied him with a good reaction stop to push the ball around his near post.

But the respite was only brief as from the resultant corner, Martins flicked a lovely header over and beyond the Hoops keeper to make it 3-0 with just 37 minutes on the clock. It was no more than the home side deserved – and they weren’t finished yet before half-time.

Five minutes later more lovely build-up play saw the unlikely figure of Sierralta latch onto the ball in the opposition penalty area and he took a touch before calmly squaring to give Bayo the simplest of tap-ins to make it 4-0.

Rangers were a bedraggled mess and the last thing they would have wanted was to see was seven minutes of time being signalled under the league’s new stoppage time policy.

But they could easily have conceded a fifth soon after as Louza showed his quality on the ball again with another superb pass forward that released Bayo, who lifted the ball beyond Begovic but his effort dropped onto the roof of the net.

Ismael made a change at the start of the second half, with Andrews coming on for Morris, meaning Ngakia move over to the left side of the defence.

But there was no surprise that Gareth Ainsworth chose to make two substitutions, with Stephen Duke-McKenna and Sinclair Armstrong coming on for Paul Smyth and Charlie Kelman.

There was no immediate change in the flow of the game though, with the hosts back on the front foot from the opening whistle and Martins firing their first effort across goal and wide.

The visitors then enjoyed a rare spell of possession but they were almost opened up on the counter when Dele-Bashiru was dispossessed trying to find Louza, who had the freedom of one half of Vicarage Road to race into it Daniel Bachmann had been a relative spectator for much of the game, but he was forced into his first meaningful save in the 54th minute when he turned behind an angled snap-shot from Ilias Chair.

Watford showed their attacking invention again six minutes later when Ngakia went storming forward after Bayo, who got caught for his troubles, laid the ball off to his teammate before finding Louza. The Moroccan had Andrews on the over-lap outside of him but he chose to go it alone, lifting a measured shot over Begovic that rebounded out off the face of the bar.

Soon after though, the Hornets were caught short at the back and Armstrong lifted the ball beyond the on-rushing Bachmann, but the angled was too acute for the substitute to turn the ball into the unguarded net and the hosts were able to deal with the danger.

Ismael made a triple change in the 66th minute, completing changing his midfield as Louza, Dele-Bashiru and Sierralta made way for debutants Jake Livermore and Giorgi Chakvetadze, while Ismael Kone also entered the fray.

A lengthy delay in play followed for a head injury but Chakvetadze was soon showing his quality on the ball, first sending Andrews clear on the right before he turned Sam Field inside out, leaving the midfielder clutching at the Georgian’s shirt and picking up the third yellow card of the contest.

Edo Kayembe replaced Martins with eight minutes of normal time remaining, but soon after Chakvetadze was at it again, curling a powerful right-footed effort narrowly wide after Sema had come infield off the right flank.

Andrews was the next to try his luck, firing an angled drive into the side netting, after the Hornets had enjoyed another long spell of possession in the opposition half.

Although the points were in the bag, the home side were seeking to finish the game strongly, Sema the next to test Begovic with a low drive, before Kone forced the keeper to go to ground to save another on-target effort as nine minutes of added time were shown.

There were very few negatives about Watford’s performance but Bachmann’s distribution with his feet does remain a concern and he could have paid the price for one poor pass in the third minute of injury time when Lyndon Dykes was put through as a result, but the striker placed his attempted finish too close to the keeper.

Watford were soon back at the other end though, Andrews laying the ball back for Sema to hit a stinging drive from the edge of the penalty area which Begovic did well to turn over.

The Hornets were unable to find a fifth goal but they left the pitch to a thoroughly deserved standing ovation.

It was important Watford got off to a positive start to the season to try and draw a line under the past, but it was the manner of how they went about it that feels more significant. A very encouraging standard has been set.

Watford: Bachmann; Ngakia, Porteous, Hoedt, Morris (Andrews 46); Louza (Kone 66), Sierralta (Livermore 66), Dele-Bashiru (Chakvetadze 66); Sema, Bayo, Martins (Kayembe 82). Subs: Hamer, Healey, Pollock, Asprilla.

Queens Park Rangers: Begovic; Kakay, Foxz, Gubbins, Paal; Field, Dozzell (Dixon-Bonner 90+7); Smyth (Duke-McKenna 46), Kelman (Armstrong 46), Chair (Willock 90+7); Dykes. Subs not used: Archer, Richards, Larkeche, Drewe, Adomah.

Bookings: Morris (45+1); Armstrong (67); Field (76).

Referee: Thomas Bramall.