However, up to 8,000 of their fans missed the match after deciding to boycott the Northampton clash in favour of a legends charity game at the Ricoh Arena.
City's owners Sisu had taken the decision to play their home games outside Coventry for the first time in the club's history after failing to reach a new rental agreement with the stadium's owners Arena Coventry Limited.
With so many Sky Blues supporters opting against the short trip down the M6, only 2,204 - including 500 opposition fans - witnessed a pulsating encounter which was decided by Billy Daniels three minutes from time.
Leon Clarke opened the scoring for City from the spot in the 27th minute after Callum Wilson was felled in the box by Aden Flint.
That goal looked like separating the teams at the interval, but two in the final two minutes of the half from Wilson and Daniels saw the home side go in with a 3-0 advantage.
The visitors looked rejuvenated after the break and Sam Baldock (55) and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (62) cut the deficit before Baldock (74) struck again to level.
However, parity lasted just 60 seconds before Wilson chipped visiting keeper Frank Fielding for his second of the game to put Coventry ahead with 15 minutes remaining.
Marvin Elliott looked to have rescued a point for Bristol City with five minutes left but Daniels latched onto a back-post knockdown to score from eight yards and send the Sky Blues fans into raptures.
And while they were celebrating their first three points of the season, those who decided to take in the legends game made their feelings known to the club's hierarchy.
Despite being treated to 11 goals, the loudest cheer of the day was heard when Billy Bell - organiser of the Coventry City Legends v Midlands All Stars - boomed over the speaker system: "Welcome to the Ricoh Arena... the home of Coventry City."
After the release of 130 Sky Blues balloons - one for each year of the club's existence - the fans were treated to an exhibition of football from former players including Dave Bennett, Darren Huckerby, Noel Whelan and Steve Froggatt, as the City Legends beat their Midlands rivals 8-3.