The U's matched up one of the division's promotion contenders on Saturday, as they shared the spoils with Sheffield Wednesday.
An Andy Bond screamer had set the U's on their way and they came so close to adding further to their goal tally in the period that followed.
They were left to rue a Dave Mooney shot that cannoned off the post, as Neil Mellor equalised with eight minutes to go.
But, despite that leveller, there were numerous positives for the U's to take out of the game in a fine display by John Ward's men.
Similar displays will surely earn better dividends and the new look U's certainly won the approval of the watching support.
John Ward named an unchanged eleven for the U's game against Sheffield Wednesday.
Both Dave Mooney and Andy Bond had recovered from ankle injuries to be fit to face the Owls.
The visiting fans were on their feet as a cross on four minutes eluded everybody including the onrushing O'Connor who was coming in at the far post.
The U's were threading the ball around nicely in the final third, as the sought their way through the Owls defence.
One such move on seven minutes ended with Mooney turning to face goal and slotting a shot into the arms of Weaver when Tierney in space on the left was the better option.
And that move was followed by another of even higher quality on nine minutes, as Henderson capped off a fine Colchester passing move with a drilled shot only inches wide.
Three minutes later, and the dangerous Tudgay twisted and turned in the box and looked like he had got away from his man, but Reid intervened with a great tackle.
The U's were sticking to their passing intentions, but it was from a longer ball that they had their next chance.
A Reid clearance sent Mooney on his way and he passed back into the path of the onrushing Henderson, whose driven shot was well blocked.
The U's attacking intent was winning plenty of friends on its first home outing, with warm applause for the nature of the play in that first quarter of the game.
A minute later, Henderson escaped the offside trap and, from a similar angle to Mooney's first goal at Hereford, he scuffed his shot and Wordsworth wasn't able to get onto it at the far post.
The U's were bursting from midfield in numbers, and Bond's toe poked pass almost got Perkins in, only for a late intervention from Purse.
The half hour mark was approaching when Henderson reacted first to a quick U's throw and his powerful cross just eluded the diving header of Wordsworth.
The U's pressing game was also ensuring that the Owls had to work for any space, and it was not until 35 minutes that they had a decent sight of goal.
A free kick into the box was flicked on by Tudgay and Morrison's hooked volley flashed wide of Cousins' far post.
Henderson was then unlucky not to get on the end of a Tierney cross, before persistent chasing by the U's had the Owls uncomfortable at the back.
The Owls were only inches from going in front seven minutes before the break.
A cross from the left was punched by Cousins onto Morrison and, with the keeper prone on the floor, the striker reacted to poke the ball towards goal.
The Owls fans at the opposite end of the ground thought that effort had found the back of the net, but were left with heads in hands as Reid thrashed the ball away from danger.
More intricate play around the edge of the box almost bore dividends again, but a cleverly lofted ball into the area was just too high for Bond to control as part of his run into the danger zone.
The game was goalless at the break, but Mooney tried an adventurous shot from distance that was deflected wide just after the restart.
That was followed by a driven Perkins shot from the edge of the box comfortably taken by Weaver, but the U's third effort from distance gave them the lead.
A strong tackle from Wordsworth got the U's on their way, and the ball was fed to Bond by Henderson.
The midfielder didn't break out of his stride, before driving in a superb shot with the outside of his right foot that swerved away from Weaver and into the top corner.
Sedgwick headed over not long after the U's goal, but Colchester were on the front foot and causing problems in the Owls defence.
And the crowd were responding in kind, providing strong vocal support for the team as the match approached the hour mark.
Colchester should have been two up on 55 minutes. Another superb run from Perkins saw him get to the byline.
Mooney had dropped into space on the penalty spot, but sidefooted his effort well wide of the post.
The striker did much better just after that effort. Again the U's battled to win the ball in midfield and the striker drove in a shot to the edge of the box that crashed off the inside of the post with the keeper beaten.
The Owls fans were not impressed by their team's showing, with boos ringing out after Mooney's shot and near miss.
The U's supporters, in contrast, were loving what they were seeing, with 'John Ward's barmy army' ringing out from the South Stand.
Trying to change the game around, Owls boss Irvine introduced Mellor as he went three up top for the final half an hour of the game.
Cousins had been relatively untested in that second period but, when Tudgay did a good give and go on 62 minutes, the keeper got down quickly to smartly block the striker's shot cum cross at the near post.
Midway through the second half, O'Connor made way as he was replaced by Potter for the remaining time in the match.
Coke became the first player of the game to be booked not long afterwards, as he chopped down Tierney as he burst forward over the halfway line.
The match had started to swing the other way, with the Owls beginning to find a foothold in the second half.
Wordsworth followed Coke into the book as he said too much after being hauled back for a harsh foul on the halfway line.
The U's were the next to go close on 75 minutes, though, as another patient build-up around the edge of the box saw Mooney slip in Henderson who, with the outside of his boot, fired over the bar.
Both teams had shouts for infringements in and around the area in quick succession as first Purse and Mooney and then Okuonghae and Morrison wrestled for the ball.
The U's made their first change with 11 minutes remaining. The impressive Henderson was the man to make way, with Ashley Vincent introduced for some fresh legs for the remainder of the match.
His introduction was followed by Wednesday completing their subs, with Jones coming on for Spurr to add extra attacking impetus.
And it paid dividends as the Owls drew level with seven minutes remaining. The U's failed to clear their lines as Mellor powered his way through and he smashed his shot home from close range.
The U's looked like they had just lost their way a little, and the Owls continued to press as the game went on.
The home side introduced Odejayi for Mooney for the last six minutes of the match, as they went for fresh legs at the end of the game.
They almost got their second goal of the game as, from a free kick, the ball pinballed around in the area, desperate for a touch to help it over the line.And, as injury time got underway, Odejayi should have done better with a free header from a central position.
The Owls were finishing on top as injury time came to a close, Odejayi going in the book for hauling down Jones as the duo tussled at the side of the pitch.
Cousins did well to field the ensuing free kick under pressure as the game came to a close with the shares spoiled.
It was an entertaining encounter and, although the U's would rue another late equaliser, there were some hugely positive signs to take into the season as it gained momentum.
U's: Cousins, Wilson, Okuonghae, Reid, Tierney, Izzet, Perkins, Bond, Wordsworth, Henderson (Vincent), Mooney (Odejayi)