Lin Dan began his attempt to become the first men's singles player of the open era to win five All-England Open titles by producing moments of breathtaking brilliance here on Wednesday.
However, China's Olympic champion was scathing in his appraisal of the latest incarnation of the world's oldest tournament.
"To a lot of people it seems to be an important tournament, but the All-England for me is not the most important tournament," he said after a 21-14, 21-17 win over Wong Choon Hann, the former Commonwealth champion from Malaysia.
"So I just do my preparation like normal," he added.
He then took aim at a tournament which this year has become one of the five Premier Series - the newest and most prestigious category on the BWF world tour.
"The lighting is bad and there is no scoreboard this time," Lin claimed, according to a Chinese interpreter.
"I think maybe the All-England should do better because this is a Premier event right now."
Lin's comments were not exactly accurate. There were miniature scoreboards behind each court but turned towards the spectators, and a master scoreboard at the end of the arena - though some found it unclear to read.
"It's disappointing that someone who won four All-England titles and has been a consistent supporter of the All-England now believes the event doesn't matter so much to him," said Adrian Christy, the chief executive of Badminton England, the host organisation.
"When you look at the world class field and the players who are here I think it is a testimony to the status that the All-England has.
"The best players in the world want to come to Birmingham to compete, the audience figures continue to grow, and the global TV coverage is greater than it has ever been.
"In the badminton world, outside of the Olympic Games and the world championships this is seen by many people as the tournament to be a part of and to win."
The lighting was allegedly the same or similar to previous years - not that Lin seemed in difficulty from any of the conditions.
He played at a modest pace, mostly lifted, cleared and pushed the shuttle around, and only rarely risked stretching himself with smashes or lunges.
Perhaps he was mindful of recently being unable to finish two tournaments because of an abdominal injury; he was certainly trying to spend time on court adapting.
Despite this he once made a previously quiet crowd gasp midway through the second game -- blocking back an attempted kill at point blank range and capitalising by switching the shuttle cross court for a winner.
That roused many of them to appreciation of his deft cross court net shot winner on the following point and his late surge of attacking which snuffed out a late revival by Wong.
Lin's win earned him a meeting with Dionysius Rumbaka of Indonesia, and his nearest rival, Lee Chong Wei, also made it to the second round.
The defending champion from Malaysia looked in great shape, gliding about the court effortlessly and producing an unstoppably fluid performance in a 21-9, 21-11 win over Brice Leverdez of France. He should have a far tougher task against Bao Chunlai of China on Thursday.
Earlier Wang Shixian, tipped to win an Olympic gold medal in London next year, had a tougher than expected start in her bid to bring the women's singles title back to China.
Given the top seeding and thrust on court first thing in the morning, Wang was not far from letting the second game slip before winning 21-15, 21-17 against Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, the world number 20 from Thailand.