Leeds boss Brian McClennan declared himself satisfied after a late rush of points enabled the Engage Super League champions to make a winning start to their title defence.
Crusaders put up a brave fight for an hour but their lack of adequate preparation eventually told as they tired and McClennan's men ran in five tries in the final quarter to secure a flattering 34-6 win at the Racecourse Ground.
"It's step one," said McClennan. "Super League is a long journey and it was a tough night at the office. I'm pretty pleased. I think we're in better shape than we were last year."
Urged on by a capacity crowd of 10,334, Crusaders took an early lead with a penalty goal from Michael Witt and, after going behind to a soft try from Leeds winger Scott Donald, hit back to level through Gareth Raynor on 28 minutes.
It was still 6-6 after 64 minutes but two flashes of brilliance from stand-off Danny McGuire turned the game Leeds' way.
He finished off a superb counter-attacking move from young full-back Kallum Watkins, deputising for the rested Brent Webb, to score a 65-metre try and then put second rower Ali Lauititi over for the first of his brace.
As fatigue in the Crusaders ranks set in, the champions took full advantage by running in three more tries, including one for Super League debutant Brett Delaney.
"We talked at half-time about about relaxing, playing out some sets and building some pressure and we did that well," said McClennan. "We had four, five, possibly six sets in that third quarter. We didn't get points but it sucked a bit of juice out of the Crusaders and that came to fruition at the back end of the game."
Delaney showed some nice touches in setting up two of Leeds' tries but McClennan admitted his other debutant Greg Eastwood struggled to get into the game. "You can see Brett's got a knack for doing the right play at the right time. You can see he's a professional, he makes the right decisions.
"Greg has nice footwork and he's going to break the line but he was probably a bit exuberant and he over-played his hand a bit."