Substitute Andre Gray inflicted a defeat on Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge with an injury time winner as Watford beat Leicester City 2-1 on Sunday.
Vardy looked to have grabbed the headlines as his cool 76th-minute strike cancelled Troy Deeney’s early opener.
But just when Rodgers might have been hoping his new side would grab a late winner to mark his debut, Gray sprinted through to take the points in injury-time.
It continued Rodgers’ dismal run in maiden games as a boss in England – having failed to win his first game at Liverpool, Swansea, Reading and Watford.
The Hornets fans certainly gave him no sympathy given he quit the club to take over the Royals a decade ago.
All the player focus had been on Vardy and how Rodgers wanted him to play the same pressing role Luis Suarez had during the Northern Irishman’s spell at Liverpool.
But it was another veteran English striker who set this game alight as Deeney put the hosts up with only five minutes played.
Moments after Kasper Schmeichel had saved brilliantly to deny Adrian Mariappa at close range, there was nothing the Dane could do to keep out Deeney’s flicked header.
It came from a Gerard Deulofeu cross as well, meaning Watford’s last six league goals read as three for Deeney, three for Deulofeu with a hat-trick of assists between them.
Had things worked out differently, the 30-year-old striker could have been wearing Leicester colours today after several failed bids in the summer following the miracle title triumph.
Vardy and Ben Foster then collided in mid-air competing for the ball, leaving both lying on the turf and requiring lengthy treatment before they continued.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between but Schmeichel had to be alert to palm away a Abdoulaye Doucoure stinger from range shortly after the break.
Rodgers’ men looked like they were heading for defeat until Vardy grabbed the type of clinical goal that has made his career.
Harry Maguire climbed over Deeney to head to the creative Youri Tielemans, who played a perfect pass for Vardy to take a touch and fire over the advancing Foster.
Rodgerscelebrated on the touchline as Vardy sprinted over to the away section who began chanting his famous party song.
The 32-year-old was later forced off with what looked like an arm injury in what will be a worry to his new manager.
Rodgers’ side would have gone in front had Wes Morgan not flicked wide in the final few minutes.
It proved to be a costly miss as moments later a poor kick from Schmeichel feel to Etienne Capoue, who passed it to Deeney.
The forward flicked the ball over the defence and substitute Gray fired through Schmeichel’s legs to ruin Rodgers’ day.