For some in the Arsenal ranks this felt like a watershed. Olivier Giroud registered a fine first Premier League goal and set up another, converted clinically by a galloping Theo Walcott to add weight to his own argument that he deserves to be considered a central striker. Yet, for the outstanding performer in the visitors' ranks, Saturday was merely a continuation of established scintillating form.
Santi Cazorla glided through this contest, a conjuror summoning a blur of opportunities for his colleagues and dictating Arsenal's blistering speed on the break. Walcott described him as "our conductor" having benefited from the Spaniard by-passing West Ham's over-committed midfield in the rapid buildup to the England international's goal. Arsène Wenger's assessment was just as gushing, the Arsenal manager's afternoon having been capped by his playmaker's left-foot finish from distance that confirmed a restorative win.
"He is right-footed but, when you watch him play, you don't know that," said Wenger before drifting into a reminiscence of his days in charge of Monaco. "We had Glenn Hoddle and he was like that – left, right, you could not say which was strongest and Cazorla, on that front, is similar. I don't remember anyone else I have worked with who was as much as that two-footed. Cazorla makes everybody [he plays with] a better player."
He certainly feels integral to this new-look team, and there must be regret that the one occasion when the 27-year-old had failed to maintain his staggering levels came as Chelsea won at the Emirates Stadium. Even so, £15m still feels like a bargain of a fee to prise him from Málaga.
There were other reasons for optimism in evidence here – for both sides – with Wenger encouraged by Giroud's reward on a first league start in over a month and heartened by Walcott's impact on his introduction as a substitute after the hour-mark. There will be more talks with the forward's representatives in the weeks ahead in a bid to shift from the impasse over a new deal, though there can be no doubting the player's commitment.
"He has character, Theo," Wenger said. "He keeps focused and wants to show he is 100% professional, and I have a big respect for that attitude."
His opposite number, Sam Allardyce, could point to chances spurned uncharacteristically by Kevin Nolan, Mohamed Diamé's glorious goal, and Andy Carroll's impressive display leading the line. The England forward might have nodded the hosts ahead after out-jumping Vito Mannone. "But that's why we've got him – he gets above the goalie," said the West Ham manager. "He's an unbelievable player who can only get better. Anybody who fears taking Andy Carroll is foolish. He'll be a tremendous asset."
There is hope the Liverpool loanee will benefit from involvement, and game-time, with England over the next fortnight but he will be needed by his club given the injuries that are eating into Allardyce's options. The impressive Guy Demel departed with a thigh complaint, Winston Reid endured a back spasm and, most troubling of all, Ricardo Vaz Tê dislocated a shoulder and, if it requires surgery, will be missing for up to three months. At best he will be absent for six weeks having tumbled, with one leg dangled suspiciously behind, over Mannone.
That is a blow but there is enough talent in the ranks to make do for now, and an impressive opening to the campaign should not be considered wrecked by this defeat. Yet this was an Arsenal celebration decorated by Cazorla's own brand of brilliance.
Man of the match Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)