Gary Bowyer's Bantams earned a bonus point success in their opening Leasing.com Trophy Northern Group F game after defeating Bolton Wanderers on penalties following a 1-1 draw in normal time.
A Sam Hornby save from Adam Senior's spot-kick meant City won the shoot-out 4-3 to ensure they left the University of Bolton Stadium with two points in total for their night's efforts.
After Dennis Politic had given Bolton the lead in the eighth minute, Paudie O'Connor's header from a corner early into the second period levelled things up to take the group game to penalties.
Tyler French had a header cleared off the line, Harry Pritchard saw a goal disallowed, while Pritchard and Jordan Gibson both hit the post during the encounter, but Bolton's brave youngsters hung on before City finally edged ahead via penalties.
Bolton opened the scorers through Politic when the attacker's drive from outside the box deflected in off French despite Hornby getting a hand to the effort.
Either side of Politic's opener, City had hit the side-netting twice via angled shots from inside the box by Pritchard and skipper-for-the-night Clayton Donaldson.
As the Bantams pushed for an equaliser, French saw a header from Pritchard corner cleared off the line by Jordan Boon.
Bowyer's men went even closer midway through the first period when Gibson hit Matthew Alexander's near post with a low drive from inside the box.
Bolton's young side, who had been seeing plenty of League One football recently due to their club's well-documented off-field struggles, were roared on throughout by an appreciative and vocal home support buoyed by the club's welcome takeover last week.
That energy from the crowd was certainly helping those in white and navy, as they fought tooth and nail to hang on in with the Bantams.
The tricky Politic threatened just past the half hour mark for the hosts when the Romanian fired narrowly wide of the far post with a low drive from outside the box.
City's final opening of the half came seven minutes from the break, Paudie O'Connor heading narrowly over the crossbar from a Pritchard corner.
Clearly looking for a reaction after the restart, City began the second period strongly, with Anderson seeing a header pushed behind by Alexander following a testing cross from the right by first half sub Omari Patrick.
The Bantams finally got themselves level soon after as Paudie O'Connor headed home from a Pritchard corner.
Hornby had to be alert to cling onto a drive from Politic at the other end soon after, but Pritchard then had a goal disallowed for handball shortly before the midfielder fired past Alexander.
The midfielder, who looked bright all match, then threatened again as he forced Alexander to push away a drive just before the hour mark.
City's number seven came within inches of finding the net minutes later, but his curling strike from close range hit the inside of Alexander's near post before bouncing away.
Gibson had a strike pushed away by Alexander with just over twenty minutes to go.
Fifteen minutes from the end, Politic wriggled his way into clear shooting space inside the box on a rare Bolton break forward - but Paudie O'Connor got back to deflect his shot through into the grateful grasp of Hornby.
Zeli Ismail, making his first appearance of the season, saw a curling strike tipped around the post by Alexander, while Gibson had a shot from inside the box blocked away soon after.
As time ticked down, the chances kept coming for City.
Gibson's flighted cross to the far post found Connor Wood in space, but the sub's cushioned effort for goal was pushed away by Alexander.
In the final minute of normal time Ben Richards-Everton headed narrowly wide from a Wood corner.
Despite five minutes of injury time that followed, City couldn't force a winner as the group game went to penalties.
Ismail, Gibson, Richards-Everton and Wood all converted as the Bantams claimed a penalty victory.
Matthew Alexander; Harry Brockbank (c), Yoan Zouma, Adam Senior, Jordan Boon; Dennis Politic (Joe White '82), Ronan Darcy, Sonny Graham, James Weir, Callum King-Harmes (Jay Fitzmartin 76'); Eddie Brown (De' Marlio Brown-Sterling 65')
Subs not used: Luke Hutchinson (GK), Myles Edmondson, Kwame Osigwe, Nathan Whalley
Goals: Politic (8')
Cautions: Politic (40'), Brockbank (43'), Brown (60'), Fitzmartin (86')
Penalties: Weir (Scored), Brockbank (Scored), Darcy (Scored), Graham (Miss), Senior (Saved)
Sam Hornby; Tyler French, Paudie O'Connor, Ben Richards-Everton; Jordan Gibson, Harry Pritchard (Connor Wood 66'), Daniel Devine, Jermaine Anderson, Jackson Longridge; Jamie Devitt (Omari Patrick 17'), Clayton Donaldson (Zeli Ismail 63') (c)
Subs not used: Richard O'Donnell (GK), Anthony O'Connor, Matthew Palmer, Hope Akpan
Goals: P O'Connor (51')
Cautions: P O'Connor (26'), Ismail (81')
Penalties: Ismail (Scored), Gibson (Scored), Richards-Everton (Scored), Wood (Scored), P O'Connor (Saved)
Attendance: 9,062 (231 visitors)
Referee: Martin Coy