Ryan Lowe was pleased to see Preston edge a “great battle” against a Plymouth side managed by his former assistant Steven Schumacher.
North End returned to the top of the Championship thanks to Duane Holmes’ opener after just 38 seconds and a second goal before half-time from debutant Liam Millar.
Schumacher, who succeeded Lowe at Home Park after working as his number two, changed things around at half-time and Ryan Hardie pulled one back for the visitors.
In an end-to-end encounter Argyle could have scored more, while Brad Potts hit a post for the hosts with 20 minutes to go.
“The lads put everything on the line to make sure they came away with the three points,” Lowe said.
“In the first half we were well worthy of the two goals. We came out with a really fast start and the second half was always going to be tough.
“Fair play to Plymouth, they changed a few things round and brought a lot of subs on and had a good go.
“They got one back, but our lads put their bodies on the line and caught everything in passes and tackles.
“It was good for me and the coaches because we were thinking all the time, and I know Shuey will have been, so it was a great battle.
“We knew they were going to have large parts of the ball, we didn’t do as well as we would have liked in the second half.
“It could have been 4-4 or 5-5 there were that many chances, we both did the right thing and tried to win a game of football.”
The two bosses shared a warm embrace ahead of kick-off as they geared up for their first clash as rival managers.
The action got off to an explosive start as Millar darted down the left, Argyle goalkeeper Conor Hazard could not hold his cross and Holmes charged in and headed home the loose ball.
Montenegro international Milutin Osmajic then expertly played in Millar, who side-stepped a defender before coolly slotting past Hazard to make it 2-0.
Argyle went on to dominate the remainder of the first period, with Kaine Kesler-Hayden missing their best chance to halve the deficit, firing straight at Freddie Woodman after being played in.
Finn Azaz and Morgan Whittaker threatened early in the second half for Argyle before Luke Cundle played in Hardie for a deserved goal.
But it was Preston who finished the stronger as Osmajic was denied by Hazard before Potts struck the woodwork, leaving Schumacher to rue a missed opportunity.
He said: “I am disappointed to lose the game.
“I didn’t feel that we deserved to lose, but we’ve come away from home again and played really well and caused the top-of-the-table team loads of problems.
“I am also proud and pleased with the players’ performance because we were brave.
“Even after going 1-0 down we kept playing and we were more than game for them.
“I don’t know if Preston would have had any other games this season where the opposition created so many chances, so credit to Ryan and his staff in getting them organised and getting people in the way.
“They block shots, they block crosses and they put their bodies on the line and their goalkeeper is a top goalie.
“If we believe that we can continue to play in this way and creating opportunities, then our first win away from home won’t be far away.”