Dale Copley leaves the field early in Round 3 with an injury.

In the corresponding fixture last season, the Roosters came away with cause for great optimism in what would turn out to be their third successive minor premiership.

Twelve months later we witnessed one of their darker days in recent memory.

On top of the 40-0 defeat, new recruit Dale Copley and veteran forward Ian Henderson suffered devastating injuries – with Copley leaving the field early in the first half with a ruptured pectoral and Henderson a broken lower leg after being trapped under Jackson Hastings in a tackle.

“Jackson swung around as he was coming in to help, because Jackson had to dive for that tackle, and the lower leg (broke) I would say,” said a dejected Roosters coach Trent Robinson post-game.

“And Copley a ruptured pec, so not a good night there.”

The Cowboys were on top from the get-go, forcing a goal-line dropout on their very first play of the game. Kane Linnett would score on the ensuing possession and from there each side’s nights would trend in a distinctly different direction.

The visitors strung together some quality football after North Queensland’s second try, but 20 good minutes is all Robinson got out of his charges on Thursday night.

Despite missing big names such as Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner, there were no excuses for the heavy defeat.

“Very disappointing. Some big efforts there for some individuals,” Robinson said.

“But at the top level you’ve got to deal with some really fine details which we just didn’t deal with.

“Lots of guys working hard but then dealing with those shifts, we’ve got to deal with them better, and especially the end of the sets; the way we finished our sets and the way they just swung the momentum almost at the end of every set.

“I thought we were matching them for effort in between.”

It would appear that the Roosters are just treading water before their biggest names return – Pearce Round 9, while Cordner and Waerea-Hargreaves are expected back in Round 11.

They are still yet to adjust to life without their representative stars, but Robinson hosed down talk of a rebuilding phase.

“[Talk of a rebuild] is just an excuse. You can’t put 40-0 down to a rebuild. We are not there,” Robinson said.

“We’ve got some players missing but we have 17 players that can play footy and we’ve got coaches coaching every week; we need to do better.”