Wakefield Trinity Wildcats spoiled Widnes's Super League return with five second-half tries to seal a 32-14 win.
Danny Craven put Widnes ahead at the Stobart Stadium before the Wildcats responded through Ali Lauitiiti.
Tries for Patrick Ah Van for Widnes and Wakefield's Andy Raleigh brought the score level at 10-10, before the hosts regained the lead through Hep Cahill.
But tries from Richie Mathers, Tim Smith and Peter Fox (2) meant that the away side left Widnes with the points.
Wakefield had 12 new faces in their starting 13 for former Hull FC coach Richard Agar's first game in charge, but the team gelled well early on, Ben Cockayne twice going close.
But it was the home side that gave their supporters some early cheer on a frosty night, when Craven collected his own grubber to touch down, the try being converted by Ah Van.
Wakefield fought back through Lauitiiti, who went over after taking Kiwi half-back Isaac John's flat pass.
Widnes added another try when Willie Isa found ex-Bradford Bulls winger Ah Van with a long pass, and he made no mistake, ensuring a 10-4 interval lead for Widnes on their first Super League appearance since 2005.
The Wildcats hit back through Raleigh but the Vikings went ahead again, this time Cahill charging down a kick on halfway before running 60 yards across the Stobart Stadium's artificial turf to score.
However, after a strong first hour from the Vikings, it was all Wakefield for the remainder of the match.
First, Mathers picked up a kick from Smith to score, John adding the extras before Aussie back Smith got on the scoresheet himself with a jinking run and finish.
Widnes's night went from bad to worse when Ben Cross was sin-binned for dissent on his debut.
Winger Fox made the one-man advantage count when he scored Wakefield's fifth try in the corner, before adding another in the dying seconds.
Widnes coach Denis Betts:
"We started OK and finished badly. What we saw is a side that tried its best but still doesn't know itself.
"It lost its way through ill-discipline, started to lose the ruck and got frustrated with the referee.
"That caused us more problems than it should have done and we should have been strong enough to get out of it."
Wakefield coach Richard Agar:
"I thought for the first 40 minutes we were very erratic, and didn't play with any composure. We had three or four chances we should have put away.
"Once we did get control, in the last 35 minutes, we showed our potential football-wise and some of the stuff we put on was terrific.
"We weren't massively worried about being behind. I was more bothered about us defensively. Everything was too quick for us and we played a lot of the first half on our own tryline."
Widnes: Craven; Dean, Marsh, Isa, Ah Van; Clarke, Hanbury; Cross, Moore, Kavanagh, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill.
Replacements: Pickersgill, White, Mullally, Haggerty.
Sin Bin: Cross (71).
Wakefield: Mathers; Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne; John, Smith; Amor, Aiton, Southern, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook.
Replacements: Johnson, Wood, Wilkes, Raleigh.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).