United were unchanged from their opening day game at Colchester with forward Zach Clough still absent, having pulled out of the warm-up just 10 minutes before that game was due to kick off.
That meant Sam Fishburn joined the away party, as he had with his late call-up at Brunton Park a week earlier.
The squad endured a nightmare Friday journey, due to a serious road traffic accident on the M6, with road closures and diversions the order of the day almost every step of the way.
It was an energetic start from both sides, and United won a corner with three minutes on the clock when a huge kick from Norman was put behind by Crichlow. The Robins broke, and Kesler-Hayden made room for a cross. Simpson met it on the leap but he couldn't keep his header down.
An angled run from McKirdy from the right flank opened space from distance, but his low drive was always heading wide.
But it was United who created the best chance of the spell when Mellish and Abrahams exchanged short, sharp passes on the edge of the box. It was there for the forward to strike as he received a second return touch, and Wollacott had to dive low to parry the left-footed stinger.
The Blues came again when Alessandra wriggled through two challenges just inside the home half. Mellish took over, and his deep delivery was gathered by Guy. A first-time cross was intercepted, but there was hesitation as Swindon struggled to clear.
Midfielder Joe Riley marked appearance number 50 for the club in some style on 13 minutes when he sat deep as the Blues once more peppered the box. It came his way, some 23-yards out, and he steadied himself before netting the goal the good start had warranted with a beautifully struck finish.
United kept going and a wonderful piece of skill from Dickenson saw him pull a floated pass from Armer out of the air inside the box. His turn took him a step away from his marker, and he appeared to be pushed just as he shaped to shoot. The referee considered it, but then pointed for a goal kick.
Dickenson beat his man on the left wing moments later and Mellish was lurking as the ball came in. His touch was heavy and the opportunity drifted away.
The Robins were back on terms from their first meaningful attack of the game on 30 minutes when a free kick from 40-yards out was sent deep. It was nodded back across the face of goal by Gladwin and Crichlow tapped it in from close range as he sprinted to get a touch.
United attacked from the restart and a deep set piece from Guy was volleyed back towards the penalty spot by Whelan. Grant moved sharply to sweep things up.
Carlisle continued to dictate the pace and a sprint from Riley saw him leave two in his wake as he broke through the lines. His cross was collected by Mellish and a neat piece of control was followed by a shot, but it lacked power and Wollacott gratefully pulled it into his chest.
Norman had to be at his best on 37 minutes when Gladwin bundled his way through to the 18-yard line. His effort was clean, but the keeper went long to parry with both hands. McDonald was back to complete the defensive duties.
It was Carlisle's turn to attack and Tanner intercepted before bringing Dickenson into play. The cross from him was wicked, but a touch from Conroy took it away from Abrahams just in the nick of time.
The Cumbrians were back in front on 43 minutes when a huge throw from Riley from just beside the corner flag was flicked on by McDonald. The alert Jon Mellish had the first stab, but Wollacott pulled off an excellent point-blank save. That paved the way for Tristan Abrahams to open his account as he stabbed the rebound over the line.
Dickenson started and almost finished a move in time added on when he controlled a high block before moving quickly past his man, on the right-hand side of the pitch. He drove on once again but his grasscutter was too close to the stopper.
More of the same type of control from Dickenson took him past two in the centre circle, and he tried to feed Mellish who was off on another sprint. It didn't quite come off and Wollacott was there to pick it up.
The Riley long throw provided another test at the start of the second period as Alessandra met it at the near stick. It eventually came to Mellish, and he won a corner as he turned on a sixpence. Guy sent that in, but McDonald's header hit the side netting.
Yet another fizzed Riley throw brought a hurried clearance from Grant. Alessandra volleyed from 19-yards but it hit Payne and skewed away from the target.
Swindon broke and a through ball from McKirdy put Kesler-Hayden into the area. He was forced wide by Armer and the shot was harmless.
A punt from distance from the same player came off McDonald and bent behind moments later, but Tanner was down low to head that corner delivery away.
Simpson was next to have a go, but he opted to shoot from range and a touch off Whelan made it a simple task for Norman.
United almost carved their way through on the hour when Tanner overlapped on the right. His clipped cross was near perfect, but the keeper did just enough to get his hands to it before Abrahams could pounce.
Norman, having just been booked for time wasting, was off his line quickly to stop Kesler-Hayden from breaking through, when Crichlow had forged out of defence to try to get things going.
A rasper of a Guy corner was angled at McDonald as the Blues continued to control the pace of the game, but Crichlow got the slightest of touches to put it behind. A half clearance from that one came to Riley, and Wollacott needed two attempts to bring it under his grasp.
Kelser-Hayden was wasteful again for the home side when he pulled another wayward effort from a McKirdy pass wide.
Defender Morgan Feeney got his first league outing with just over 15 minutes left to play when he came on for Dickenson, and he moved right into the heart of the defence, with Whelan and McDonald either side.
The tempo ticked over and a run from Alessandra saw him protect possession before the late arriving Jack Armer took over. His cross turned into a shot as it rifled towards Wollacott.
Captain Callum Guy bent one over the target after good work from Abrahams, and Jack Payne wasted a real opportunity when a messy piece of play eventually broke his way. He was at an angle, but he failed to hit the spot and a wild attempt ripped high.
Strength from Tanner saw him somehow twist through two challenges as things ebbed and flowed but his cut back was cut out and Mampala could do nothing.
Norman had to readjust late in the day to keep a deflected shot from 24-yards out, and it was a good save as he got there with the ball having taken a wicked diversion.
United had to defend through the closing five minutes, with McDonald strong in the header, and there was a heart in the mouth moment when Kesler-Hayden was sent one-on-one with Norman. The stopper spread himself, and he got enough on it to take it past the post. McKirdy steamed in, but the angle was against him and he could only bulge the side of the net.
McKirdy dragged another weak attempt past the upright when Iandolo tried to pick him out, and Kesler-Hayden blazed another effort from the overlap into the home fans behind the goal, much to their disappointment.
Mampala did the same at the other end, having done the hard work of beating the tackles, and there was nail biting to be had as the Robins sent everybody forward.
But Kesler-Hayden was shown his second yellow with seven minutes of time added having been played when he cut Mampala down.
That was the last action of the day and the Cumbrians collected a superb three points.
Swindon Town - Crichlow (30)
Carlisle United - Riley (13), Abrahams (43)
Swindon Town - Kesler-Hayden (28 & 90), Reed (90)
Carlisle United - Dickenson (29), Norman (63)
Swindon Town - Wollacott, Conroy (c), Crichlow, Gladwin (Parsons 78), Simpson, Payne, McKirdy, Kesler-Hayden, Hunt (Iandolo 60), Reed, Grant (Aguiar 90). Subs - Odimayo, Ward, East, Dabre.
Carlisle United - Norman, Tanner, McDonald, Whelan, Armer, Riley, Guy (c), Mellish (Charters 90), Alessandra, Abrahams (Mampala 85), Dickenson (Feeney 73). Subs - Jensen (gk), Toure, Bell, Fishburn.
Referee - Carl Brook
Assistant Referee 1 - Richard Morris
Assistant Referee 2 - Samuel Ogles
Fourth Official - Andy Bennett
Observer - Simon Snartt
Attendance - 9,450 (253 away)