Bulldogs coach Des Hasler says he's noticed a worrying trend in his side's inability to respect their opportunities with the football – and five-eighth Josh Reynolds says he see it too.
Last year's grand finalists coughed up possession seven times in the first half in Sunday's season-opening defeat to Penrith, an issue aggravated by the 8-3 caning they copped in the penalty count.
"We weren't responsible enough with the ball, which is probably a trend that we've had a lot within the side. So it's something that's really hinders us, and it's something that we really need to adjust," Hasler said post-game.
"It's not easy to work out, they just strangled us and then when they got into a position to score points, they did. When we did, we came up with an error, and then a penalty."
Reynolds said it was a concerning pattern sugar-coated by their ability to grind their way back into games. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that didn't occur on Sunday.
"It happened last year. We seem to just come away with winning games on the back of our sheer determination," he said.
"The grinding games are ingrained in us, but we need to get out of these bad habits that we have got and beat teams in the early parts of the game. If we start different, it's a totally different ball game.
"We just had no ball. I think we had 35 per cent or something like that. It's pretty unacceptable. You can't expect to come out to a place like this against a quality team like Penrith and give them that much ball.
"The first half was unacceptable. The second half we picked it up a little, but there's no doubt we've got plenty to work on."
On a day where hot temperatures reached almost 30 degrees at kick-off, the Bulldogs' monstrous pack fatigued quickly against the nimble feet and clever offloading ability of Penrith's smaller side.
"Any forward pack would struggle without that amount of ball," Reynolds said. "It's on everyone, on individuals, on myself and [Trent Hodkinson] to get us out of trouble sometimes. It's a team effort, but I'm sure we'll pick it up next Friday night against Parramatta."
New buys Brett Morris (one try, 100 metres) and Michael Lichaa (33 tackles) both put in strong showings in their first NRL outings for the club.
The clash with the Eels at ANZ Stadium will be the Bulldogs' first home game of the year and the 9th annual Bandaged Bear Cup match between the two sides.