King's performance in a 3-1 Europa League defeat on Thursday night to last season's beaten finalists Braga was one of the plus points of an ultimately disappointing opener to the Group H campaign.
The 31-year-old striker, who had missed all of pre-season due to a knee ligament injury following his contentious arrival from local rivals Coventry in June, grabbed the Blues' only goal of the night.
After a 30-minute substitute appearance against Millwall on Sunday for his debut, Hughton opted to give King his first start against the Portuguese side, and the manager was more than happy.
"Marlon showed the quality of player he is," Hughton said. "When you consider, that apart from coming on as a sub on Sunday, that was the first game he had played for some time, he did very well.
"His goal will be a fantastic confidence boost for him.
"Marlon is a very good player and not only did he get a goal, but his performance... I wasn't sure I'd be able to get 90 minutes from him considering what he has missed in pre-season.
"But it's testimony to the medical staff and sports science people who have worked him very hard in that period of time.
"So I'm very encouraged by him. He'll be a big part of what we are trying to achieve."
King was one of six changes to the side that beat the Lions, with Hughton understandably having one eye on Sunday's trip to Southampton, one of the early pacesetters in the npower Championship.
City, though, were scuttled by some quality finishing, with Helder Barbosa's 20-yard volley in the sixth minute the pick of the bunch.
Lima then struck a half-volley just before the hour, and although King pulled one back in the 71st minute, Barbosa made it five goals in four games with a clinical breakaway strike.
Hughton insisted he had "no regrets" with regard to his team selection, but appreciates the defeat has made it difficult to progress to the knockout phase.
"There is more pressure to win your home games because we know how hard it will be away from home," said Hughton on a group that also includes Club Brugge and NK Maribor.
"But we have played against the best team, and the one with the best pedigree in this group, and we've come very close to getting something from the game.
"It's a result we didn't want, but we have to be realistic because they are a good side, and if you are going to lose a home game, it might as well be against the best.
"However, there are still five more games in the group, and we better make sure we keep ourselves very much in it."