Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett labelled his side's 28-6 loss to a dominant Bulldogs outfit as a "wake-up call" in what can only be described as a dire start to his NRL coaching career.
Copping the harsh realities of first grade coaching from the get-go Barrett confessed he felt "empty" following the Sea Eagles 22-point defeat at Brookvale Oval.
The Bulldogs raced out to a 22-0 lead after 32 minutes, but the home side can take some positives out of the match after holding their opponents to a 6-all draw in the second half. Though you won't hear any excuses from Barrett.
"They had 60 per cent of the footy in the first half and I think it showed with the reduction of interchange, if you give a team that much possession it's going to be hard and you're going to run out of gas," Barrett said post-game.
"We didn't give ourselves a chance. Too many errors, we had four coming out of our own end. One area we wanted to be good in is in yardage and we gave them four pretty simple shots on our try-line.
"It put us under the pump and in the end we had no energy and it was pretty evident in some of the attacking plays that we came up with. We looked tired, looked lethargic and it was just off the back of the weight of possession [against us].
"There's no hiding from the fact that it was a bit of a wake-up call for us. We'll cop that, it's a tough competition and we'll have to aim up again next week."
The Sea Eagles only managed a single trial in pre-season, a 58-0 flogging of the Ipswich Jets a fortnight ago.
Yet Barrett brushed aside concerns that their fixture against the reigning Intrust Super Cup premiers wasn't a true indication of their form leading into season proper.
While Brett Stewart's late withdrawal due to a hamstring complaint wouldn't have helped the Sea Eagles' cause against the Bulldogs, Barrett was blunt in his assessment.
"We had four guys in our team who didn't play in that Ipswich trial," he said.
"No excuses here though, we weren't good enough in the first half and we'll have to be against the Tigers next week."
Barrett was confident Stewart would be fine for their clash with the Wests Tigers next Monday and wasn't concerned by possible match review charges to Martin Taupau (shoulder charge) and Steve Matai (high tackle).