Sunwolves' first Super Rugby outing ended in defeat, as the Lions emerged 26-13 victors from Saturday's clash at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo.
The eagerly anticipated debut of the Japanese outfit saw the visitors prevail with a bonus point success, having outscored the Sunwolves by four tries to one.
"We will get better," said Sunwolves' try-scorer Shota Horie. "We have to work on the scrum and other areas like our tackling but it's a long season and we'll take it step by step and give 100 per cent.
"I never imagined I would play Super Rugby in Japan. It's a dream come true."
There were also wins for the Chiefs, Waratahs, Rebels and the Stormers, while Southern Kings' return to the competition ended in heavy defeat as the first round of the 2016 campaign concluded.
Sunwolves 13-26 Lions
Tries from Robbie Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan had the visitors 12-6 in front at the break, and further scores from Jaco Kriel and Lionel Mapoe sandwiched Sunwolves' first Super Rugby try, scored by Horie.
Waratahs 30-10 Queensland Reds
First-half scores from Michael Hooper, Mark Carraro and debutant David Horwitz put the Waratahs 20-0 up, and a superb try from Nick Phipps after the interval secured a bonus-point win over their fierce rivals in coach Daryl Gibson's first game in charge.
Crusaders 21-27 Chiefs
Richie Mo'unga's 16 points were not enough for the hosts in a topsy-turvy encounter, as Sam Cane's try two minutes from the end sealed victory for the Chiefs.
Western Force 19-25 Melbourne Rebels
Reece Hodge enjoyed a stunning debut for the Rebels, the 22-year-old scoring a brace of tries, two penalties and two conversions to end the match with 20 points in his team's victory.
Southern Kings 8-43 Sharks
Returning to the competition for a second season following relegation in 2013, the Kings were blown away as the Sharks ran in 28 unanswered points in the second period.
Stormers 33-9 Bulls
The home side only led 9-6 at half-time, but pulled away after the restart and earned a bonus point courtesy of scores from Robert du Preez, Eben Etzebeth and Scarra Ntubeni.
THE KEY MOMENTS
Horie barges over to touch down on the hour-mark, to send the 25,000 crowd in Tokyo into raptures as Sunwolves score their first Super Rugby try.
Sunwolves' influential fly-half Tusi Pisi is sin-binned for offside with 15 minutes remaining, ending any home hopes of a turnaround.
"Credit to the Sunwolves. They put us under real pressure and we have great respect for what they have achieved in a short period of time." - Warren Whiteley, Lions captain.
"You can always handle losing if you know the players gave everything," - Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett. "We are very proud of our players given the short time that was involved in getting ready."
"The Reds threw a lot at us, particularly in the second half and credit to the guys for sticking in there through a lot of penalties and we managed to stay in the game." - Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper.
The Waratahs, Sharks, Stormers and Lions join the Brumbies on taking maximum points from the first round of the season, while five teams failed to manage the consolation of a losing bonus point from their opening outings.