The Cherries sealed their place in the second round of the Capital One Cup, with a 2-0 victory over League Two side Exeter City.
A 54th minute own goal from Scot Bennet followed by a goal from debutant Dan Gosling was enough to ensure the Cherries’ progression, although in truth they should have been out of sight at half time.
As expected, Howe fielded an entirely different XI to the one that swept Huddersfield aside on the opening day of the season.
Both Daryl Flahavan and Elliott Ward made their respective returns from injury - with the latter donning the captain’s armband in the absence of Tommy Elphick– whilst Adam Smith recovered from illness in time to make only his second start since signing for the club in January.
Youngster Baily Cargill was also rewarded for an impressive pre-season with a place in the starting XI, whilst other notable inclusions were that of Dan Gosling and Junior Stanislas, who made their Cherries debuts in midfield.
And the new-look Cherries side repaid Howe’s faith as they dominated proceedings from early on, controlling possession as well as chances.
Their first real effort came on 20 minutes, with a corner routine fresh off the training pitches finding Brett Pitman on the edge of the area, but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
They continued to press and winger Ryan Fraser was next to come close, after he played a neat one-two with Pitman inside the area. Grecians stopper Christy Pym prevented him breaking the deadlock, getting down low to save smartly with his feet.
And just seven minutes later Pyms was the hero again. Having been played in by Rantie, Stanislas beat his man before unleashing a low curling shot which looked to be nestling in the far corner, but somehow the stopper parried it on to the post.
Pyms continued to be called upon as the Cherries piled the pressure on and a minute later Fraser slipped in Pitman, who played it across the face of goal, forcing the keeper to push it away.
With the half drawing to a close, and the 735 travelling Cherries supporters left scratching their heads as to how their side hadn’t put this game beyond the hosts, Ward had a header cleared off the line before Pitman curled shot over a minute from time.
Exeter emerged for the second half far brighter but Grimes failed to capitalise on arguably their best chance of the evening just four minutes in, before Wheeler shot wide just minutes later.
It almost felt cruel that it was during their best spell of the game that the hosts fell behind but in truth the Cherries were more than worth their lead. Stanislas, who had looked lively throughout, put the ball into the area, forcing Scot Bennet to turn it into his own net from close range.
The spirited Grecians continued to try and find inroads back into the game but the Cherries defence stood strong.
And on the 70th minute, as the Grecians looked to be running out of steam in their efforts to get back into the game, as Fraser teased the ball around the defence to play in Rantie with Pyms forced to get down low and block his effort.
And the Cherries’ Championship class again shone through on the 73rd minute as Fraser skipped past the defence and played in Rantie, but the ‘keeper got down well to block the striker’s shot.
A minute later and their lead was doubled though, as debutants Gosling and Stanislas linked up, with the former tapping in Stanislas’ cross.
As the game drew to a close and the Cherries looked to protect their lead, Howe introduced fresh legs in the form of Arter and Wilson.
The spirited Grecians still looked to find inroads in the game, but again failed to capitalise on the chances that did fall to them, with Keohane the latest to blast wide of Flahavan’s goal having found himself in a dangerous position.
A late substitution saw Ritchie introduced in place of the impressive Stanislas, with the winger nearly making it three shortly after as he fired a shot across the face of goal.
But it didn’t matter as the referee blew the whistle a minute later, with the Cherries safely into the second round.
Exeter City: Pym, Wheeler, Tilson, Bennett, Baldwin, Woodman, Butterfield, Grymes, Davies (Oakley 45), Keohane, Nicols
Unused substitutes: Hamon, Dawson, Riley-Lowe, Jay, Pope, Watkins.
Cherries: Flahavan, Smith, Cargill, Ward, Harte, Stanislas (Ritchie 89), MacDonald, Gosling, Fraser (Arter), Rantie (Wilson), Pitman.
Unused substitutes: Buchel, Kermorgant, McCarthy, Francis.
Booked: Arter (84)
Goals: Bennety (OG 54), Gosling (65)
Attendance: 2,648 (735 Cherries supporters)