A classic song from the 1980s belted out before kick-off at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“One Step Beyond.”
Then the League One Millers scored after just a minute against their Premier League opponents and led in the Carabao Cup for 50 minutes.
Class told in the end as Huddersfield stepped up the pace after the break and swung the second-round tie with two quickfire replies.
But Paul Warne’s men could have taken the clash to extra time had substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris not blazed wide of an empty net in time added on as Town were hanging on.
The Millers showed what they should be about under Warne this season: organised, disciplined, hard-running, brimming with unstinting effort. They pressed high in the Huddersfield half, they defended with snap and vigour in their own.
“Apart from a 10-minute wobble at the start of the second half, I thought we were the better team,” Warne said. “Maybe I see it through Rotherham eyes, but we deserved another goal.”
With both sides making a raft of changes to their league line-ups, Rotherham got off to a dream start, taking the lead after just 61 seconds.
A corner for the visitors was cleared, the ball came out to Anthony Forde on the left and his perfect cross was headed home by Semi Ajayi who, after his mistake at Peterborough United last weekend, went from goal villain to goal hero in one game.
The third-tier Millers on the scoresheet. Top-flight Huddersfield, second in the table with a 100 per cent record after two matches, conceding for the first time this season.
Rotherham were worthy of their interval advantage, but Philip Billing came on as a sub and made an immediate difference as Town turned the game on its head.
The home side were awarded a 51st-minute penalty, despatched by Billing, for a spot of shirt-pulling on Laurent Depoitre, and Joe Lolley finished off slick work down the left with a first-time shot only four minutes later.
But the Millers refused to lie down, had Town hanging on at the end and spurned two golden opportunities to level proceedings.
In the 61st minute, Jon Taylor made a driving run down the left and found sub Kieffer Moore sliding in at the back post only for the big man to be denied by great reactions from goalkeeper Joel Coleman.
Then sub Jonson Clarke-Harris went for power over precision and wasted the chance of the game in the dying seconds after a Moore shot had been saved.
In between, Will Vaulks had a headed goal ruled out for a Moore infringement that Warne said he couldn’t see when he watched it back on video.
“Jono has missed an easy chance. He’s apologised for it,” Warne added. “I thought Kieffer should have scored as well.
“We threw the kitchen sink at them.”
Rotherham can be proud of their performance. Jamie Proctor up front, until his withdrawal, was too much for Michael Hefele, and Huddersfield were glad to hear the final whistle after the Millers’ late surge.
Plenty to be encouraged by, even if the third round proved to be One Step Beyond.
Goals: Billing pen 52, Lolley 55 (Huddersfield); Ajayi 2 (Rotherham).
Huddersfield (4-2-3-1): Coleman; J Williams, Hefele, Schindler (Billing H-T), Malone; D Williams, Whitehead; Quaner, Palmer (Kachunga 74), Lolley (Ince 81); Depoitre. Subs not used: Lossl, Smith, Mounie, Zanka.
Rotherham (4-2-3-1): O’Donnell; Cummings, Ajayi, Wood, Purrington; Vaulks, Dominic Ball (Bray 81); Forde, David Ball (Clarke-Harris 64), Taylor; Proctor (Moore H-T). Subs not used: Bilboe, Emmanuel, Mattock, Williams.
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside).