Matt Paterson's first goal for Burton was enough to seal victory at Rochdale.
Paterson, who joined Burton after leaving Southend United in the summer, fired the Brewers ahead after good work from striker Calvin Zola.
Rochdale threatened an equaliser, with Jason Kennedy forcing a good stop from debutant goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson.
Bobby Grant also went close with a long-range effort, while the visitors struck a post late on through substitute Cleveland Taylor.
VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Burton Albion assistant manager Kevin Summerfield told BBC Radio Derby Sport:
"The biggest difference for me was that we were playing the game in their half and they were defending corners because he [new goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson] can kick the ball so far up the pitch.
"It may sound soft, but those things are usually important.
"They're having to defend a 70-yard kick down the field which is brilliant for us, because we can get up and get free kicks and corners."