Gary Rowett says the 1-1 draw with Sunderland was the perfect platform for wantaway stars to prove their worth.
Darron Gibson caused controversy in the build-up to the game by suggesting some of his team-mates did not want to play for the club, something which boss Simon Grayson said he was already aware of.
The Black Cats impressed in an entertaining contest, unfortunate to go into half-time level.
Rowett said: "The first game of the season, even if you’ve got players where there’s a little bit of discontent, they’re always going to want to play, whether it is to get a move away or play in front of the cameras, it was probably an ideal game for them in some ways. You look at some of those players, they’re good players, people like Lamine Kone, they’ll go for good money and they’re players that people are going to want."
Sunderland shortened the pitch in the run-up to the game, and Rowett was impressed with how Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan led from the front.
He added, however, that he felt Derby were 'fitter' in the closing stages and could have taken the three points.
He said: “It was probably a fair result in the end. We have got a lot more in the tank, both with the ball and when we aren’t in possession. We can press a lot better than that and also play better than we showed.
“It was honours even to start the season and a draw was probably about right," he added.
"We have played against Simon's (Sunderland boss Simon Grayson) teams before. They cause you problems by putting you under pressure, that's the type of football his teams have played previously.
"We were expecting quite a direct game, Sunderland had made the pitch shorter and more compact, I think so they could make it a tough game. They did that quite well with their front two and we struggled to get out and stop the ball coming into our box, we had to defend really well."