Reigning champions Bayern Munich got their title defense off to a winning start defeating Dortmund 2-0 in their curtain raiser, and last year's runners-up Bremen kept the first week close after other top teams stumbled.
Bremen's Miroslav Klose gets away from Hanover's Dariusz Zuraw
Bayern, the winners of back-to-back league and cup doubles, looked far from their best in pre-season warm-up matches but were still able to overrun Borussia Dortmund.
"Dortmund had too many chances and we owed a lot to Oliver Kahn," Bayern coach Felix Magath said of his goalkeeper's performance. "I said we would take some time to get going after the World Cup but we have three points on the board and that is all that matters."
Dutch international striker Roy Makaay opened the scoring for Bayern after 24 minutes to go some way to putting his World Cup misery behind him with a right-footed shot that curled into the corner to the delight of 69,000 fans in Munich.
German star Schweinsteiger, right, has been on a roll since the World Cup game for third place
The 31-year-old Makaay was heartbroken after manager Marco van Basten left him out of the Netherlands World Cup squad but a free summer has left him fit and sharp and he rattled the post after just 27 seconds.
Dortmund had been pegged on the back foot for most of the first half but their new strike duo Alexander Frei and Nelson Valdez offered hope.
"We had chances but did not take them and Bayern were just that bit too clever," admitted Dortmund defender Christoph Metzelder. "They sat deep and we could not get through."
Kahn makes it 500
The 37-year-old Kahn made his 500th Bundesliga appearance in the season opener and pulled off some good saves to keep a clean sheet.
Kahn was crucial in Munich's opening win
"We put the poor pre-season results behind us and got off to a good start," said Kahn. "It is great to reach 500 Bundesliga games. Now I will concentrate on playing many more."
German international Bastian Schweinsteiger gave Bayern the cushion they craved in the 55th minute drilling a low shot past Roman Weidenfeller.
It was a timely strike from Schweinsteiger with new Germany coach Joachim Löw watching from the stands less than a week before Germany's first post-World Cup match against Sweden.
Early blow to Hamburg, Schalke
Nuremberg will enjoy what is likely to be their only week at the top of the Bundesliga table after tallying the first upset of the season on Saturday with a 3-0 win against Stuttgart.
Two of the teams often tapped to be among Bayern Munich's closest competition, however, had to satisfy themselves with draws against lesser competition. Hamburg, who are still fighting for a spot in this season's Champions League, tied Arminia Bielefeld 1-1 while Eintracht Frankfurt surprised Schalke by splitting points on a goal each.
In more predictable results, all three teams promoted to the German top flight suffered losses in their opening ventures. Leverkusen shut out Aachen to win by three goals, Energie Cottbus lost 2-0 to Mönchengladbach despite being the better team on the day, and Mainz held off Bochum with a 2-1 victory.
Werder Bremen off to good start
Werder Bremen got their campaign to win the Bundesliga off to a winning start on Sunday with three late goals to secure a 4-2 victory at Hanover 96. Bremen, who finished runners-up to Bayern last season, needed three late goals to overcome stiff opposition from the home side. The visitors took the lead in the 18th minute when American international Steve Cherundolo lost the ball in the area and new signing Diego beat goalkeeper Robert Enke.
Bremen want to dethrone the Bavarians this season
Five minutes from the break Hanover equalized through Jiri Stajner, who had been set up with a defense-splitting pass by Michael Tarnat. The visitors then had an opportunity to restore their lead, but Tim Borowski's penalty in the 43rd minute was saved by Enke. Iranian Vahid Hashemian put Hanover into the lead in the 67th minute after being set up by Stayner.
Inspired changes by Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf turned things around though, as first Portuguese substitute Hugo Almeida, who had been on the field just three minutes, equalized in the 79th minute. Five minutes later World Cup top scorer Miroslav Klose found the net for the Champions League participants after being fed by man-of-the-match Diego. Two minutes into injury time Diego was again provider for another substitute Daniel Jensen whose shot from close range put the game beyond Hanover's reach.
The other game on Sunday saw VfL Wolfsburg play to a goalless draw with Hertha Berlin. Both sides created several chances, but especially Wolfsburg strikers Diego Klimowicz and Mike Hanke failed to make the most of their opportunities.