Take it from Kevin Youkilis: Of all the positives that emerged from the Red Sox’ first two games, two stood out above the rest.

Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz pitched like aces again.

As much as anybody, Youkilis understands the impact Lester and Buchholz have on the Red Sox’ fortunes. To wit: As poorly as the Sox played in September 2011, they still may have staved off an epic collapse if only Lester had pitched well in any of his final four starts or if Buchholz hadn’t been sidelined by a stress fracture in his back.

So, as a newcomer to an injury-ravaged Yankees team that was outscored 15-6 by the Sox in the season’s first two games, Youkilis’ biggest takeaway was the back-to-back strong outings by Lester and Buchholz.

“It’s only one start, so you really can’t tell, but I just think, as everyone knows, those are the guys that are going to make them click this year,” said Youkilis, who spent eight seasons with the Sox before being traded last June and signing with the Yanks in the offseason. “If those guys go well, the team will do a lot better. If they don’t, it’s probably not going to be a good year for them. They’re the top dogs on that team.”

Lester was effective, if not especially economical, on Opening Day. He didn’t yield a hit until the third inning and was primed to pitch deep into the game until a 34-pitch fourth ratcheted his pitch count. His only real mistake came on a two-strike cutter to Francisco Cervelli, who lined it to left field for a two-run single in the Sox’ 8-2 win.

Buchholz was even better Wednesday night, giving up little more than a solo home run to Travis Hafner over seven stellar innings. It was the reverse of last season, when Youkilis was present to witness Buchholz post a 9.09 ERA through his first six starts.

“Pitching-wise, it looks like he’s back,” Youkilis said. “He’s a little different, though. I remember when Clay was throwing 95. That’s why I was surprised last night. His velocity wasn’t the same as it used to be. But that doesn’t mean anything. You can pitch without velocity. He has the stuff to do it.”