A scorching first-half volley from Adam Rundle and an 89th minute strike by Brian Wake put last year's beaten finalists, Carlisle United, through to the second round of the LDV Vans Trophy.
Teenager Rundle cashed in on two sloppy defensive headers - the second by Wayne Evans dropping perfectly for him - to beat the despairing drive of Dale keeper Neil Edwards from 20 yards.
But Dale had their chances before Wake pounced on a deflected cross to lash in Carlisle's second with Edwards stranded.
They made the early running with Rory Patterson and Leo Bertos squandering good chances before Rundle struck.
As the game swung end-to-end before the break, United keeper Matty Glennon tipped a Patterson header over the bar and Edwards, one-handed, turned a fierce Richie Foran free-kick round the post.
Dale, weakened by the absence of a handful of first choice players, threatened to get back into the game with the introduction of Mickael Antoine-Curier and the lively Pat McCourt in the 63rd minute.
But United finished the stronger, Craig Farrell flashing a header just too high and Will McDonagh firing a 20-yard drive narrowly wide.
Dale's Kevin Townson did get the ball in Carlisle's net after 85 minutes only to be flagged offside and Dale's hopes of rescuing the game were extinguished with Wake's late strike.