Panthers coach Anthony Griffin admits Saturday afternoon's 42-10 defeat at the hands of the Dragons might be a blessing in disguise after his young troops had been touted as competition favourites heading into the 2017 season.
Penrith looked like a shadow of the side that reached the second week of the 2016 finals series as they failed to get any sort of rhythm against a team most experts had tipped to struggle.
Saturday's loss has already seen the Panthers drift from joint-premiership favouritism, and Griffin said the 32-point hiding might have helped extinguish some of the hype surrounding his team.
"It might take care of that, yeah," he said after the game.
"That's not anything that we speak about. We came here today, and obviously we were looking forward to Round 1, but we got jumped really early with that run of possession and never recovered. It's just disappointing from a team point of view, but anyway, it's Round 1."
The Panthers missed a whopping 50 tackles and completed just 66 per cent of their sets in testing conditions, and Griffin credited the Dragons for taking full of advantage of his side's "disappointing" performance.
"I thought St George [Illawarra] were very good. They just got on a roll early in that first half and we couldn't hold them. At times we got back into the battle a little bit but they were far too good," he said.
"You could feel it watching it once they got a run of possession early. It's a tough competition and they've got a big forward pack that had a lot of ball and they were just too good for us today.
"I just thought defensively we weren't at the same intensity as they were. That's a credit to them. They came at us really hard on both sides of the ball. In the end it led to us making a lot of errors. They were just far too good."
Panthers captain Matt Moylan didn't have much to add after the loss, clearly stung by the shock defeat.
"It was a disappointing way to start the year. We turned over too much ball and they were pretty good when they had the ball."