The first team coach joined Nicky Spooner and Gavin McCann in the dugout at Bootham Crescent as a youthful side lost 1-0 to the Conference North Minstermen.
Senior stars Ben Alnwick, Remi Matthews, Jason Lowe, Josh Magennis, Luke Murphy and Erhun Oztumer stayed at home. And that left only two players in the starting line-up – Connor Hall and Ronan Darcy – with previous first-team experience for Bolton.
Speaking after the game, Darby hopes the six missing players will be in the squad travelling to Chester on Friday night.
“The thought was that they (the senior players) were just not ready for it, really,” he told The Bolton News.
“The last thing we can do with the size of our squad at the moment is get injuries, so the decision was made to mix the Under-23s, 18s and a few of the younger ones.
“I’d like to think that will change for Chester on Friday, definitely, we’re another week down the line. Another tough week’s training in the lads and we’ll see where that gets us.”
The young Wanderers side did well to keep the game tight and were given a hearty ovation from 242 Bolton fans watching in the stands.
“It was hard, it was always going to be hard,” Darby said of the game.
“The team that started the game had seven Under-23s, three Under-18s and a boy – Nathan Whalley at right-back – who has just come out of school.
“They held their own. We knew York were big and physical and every time the ball went in the box it was going to be tough but they fought their corner.
“We might have done more with the ball but it’s the first game back, we’ve been training for two weeks.”
Scholars had gone without wages over the summer but a payment was rushed through by administrators last week to enable Parkinson to top up his numbers.
“They are 16 or 17-year-old kids but they still need to get into work,” Darby said. “They have to pay bus or train fare and it’s been tough but fair play to them, they get in every day and there are no excuses. Parents have been brilliant as well.
“It’s all hands on deck and try to get through this as best we can.”