NIRRANDA captain Jason Mungean believes a round-one win against power side Nestles has justified the Knights' elevation to division one.
The respected leader was thrilled with his club's five-run win against the 2011-12 grand finalist, which could yet prove to be one of the upsets of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association season.
Defending 102, the Knights rolled the talent-laden Factory for just 97 to make their intentions known.
Mungean said the result justified a WDCA decision to promote the reigning division two premier.
"I like to think we have. It's the start of a long road back," he said.
"An early win takes the pressure off and hopefully makes it easier as we go.
"It was pretty good, I thought. We couldn't have asked for anything more. To be honest, it cements belief in our group."
Nirranda was desperate to return to division one this season and has overcome a series of obstacles to do so.
The Knights, who last played in division one in 2008-09, defeated East Warrnambool YCW in the division two grand final in March.
But the WDCA board denied them a promotion, citing a lack of a turf wicket venue and the fact they did not field an under 17 side.
An appeal followed and the WDCA elevated Nirranda and East Warrnambool in August, expanding division one to a 12-team competition, after heeding club arguments for top-grade representation. The Knights' division one return on Saturday was marked by the shock win against the Factory, a team considered a finals contender.
Nirranda was forced to defend 102, with Knights' medium pacer Ben Ludeman shoring up the result with a damaging bowling display.
"Ben Ludeman, in his first division one game in Warrnambool, was exceptional," Mungean said.
"He took 4-6 and is only a 17-year-old kid who we brought across from Heytesbury Rebels."
Mungean said the Knights' younger players, many of whom made their top grade debuts, adjusted to the tempo well.
Mungean said while thrilled with the result, Nirranda needed to "keep working".
The Knights' challenges don't get any easier. They meet Merrivale, another finals tip, in round two.
"I don't think we will go in too confident. We are still underdogs," Mungean said.
"They have good young players and I see Will Chapples is back so we will have our work cut out trying to keep him in control."
East Warrnambool suffered a five-wicket loss to Russells Creek in its division one return.