Ronan Darcy and Nathan Delfouneso were both given a run-out but couldn’t help a youthful Wanderers’ line-up suffering their first defeat in Group A of the Central League Cup.
The senior pair – the only professionals on show in a side led by Wanderers’ youth staff – played 90 minutes to get some useful game-time.
But it was Dale striker Luke Charman who left his mark as a more experienced Dale side eased to victory at the Crown Oil Arena.
The recent signing from Darlington bagged a hat-trick in his first outing in a Rochdale shirt to help his side – marshalled by veteran defender Jimmy McNulty and with half-a-dozen other professionals on show – collected their opening points of the group stage.
Charman struck twice before the break and then completed his treble early in the second half to make it a perfect start in Lancashire for the former Newcastle United man.
Wanderers started brightly with Mitch Henry staking a claim for a spot-kick after being released by a fine pass from Max Conway and Arran Pettifer firing just wide after being teed up by Darcy.
But Dale carried an increasing threat and after on-loan Coventry man Danny Cashman had flicked an effort just over, Charman broke the deadlock 10 minutes before the break when steering home a low cross from Anesio Jesus.
It was quickly 2-0 when Charman – who also gained experience on loan at Accrington Stanley – punished a slip from Noah Halford to beat Luke Hutchinson at the second attempt.
And Wanderers went into the break still two behind when Henry rushed a chance to pull one back when he intercepted a pass-back inside the penalty area.
The Whites also made positive start to the second half with Darcy seeing an effort blocked and Henry clipping a shot straight at Jay Lynch after pinching possession.
But three goals in a 10-minute spell killed off any prospect of a fightback as Dale wrapped up victory.
Jordan Scanlon chipped home the third with the help of a deflection before the impressive Charman again finished well to complete his hat-trick.
And Wanderers’ defence was breached again following a corner when defender Max Taylor rammed the ball home with 25 minutes to go.
The Whites dug in to avoid conceding again and looked to respond as Darcy went close to getting on the scoresheet when his low strike, following good work by substitute Sam Olawumi, was well saved by Lynch.
And the forward’s perseverance was almost rewarded again when his free-kick dipped just over the bar with the final kick as Wanderers pushed for a late consolation.
Wanderers Res: Hutchinson; Beardsworth, Halford; Toure (Olawumi, HT), Frimpong, Pettifer (Burgess 79), Tweedley; Henry (Jones 70), Darcy, Delfouneso. Substitutes: Litherland.
Rochdale Res: Lynch, Taylor (Watts 70), Sutton, McNulty (Kyffin 70), Mialkowski, Brierley, Cashman, Scanlon, Graham, Jesus, Charman (Caldwell 76). Substitutes: Wade.