Dragons coach Paul McGregor has refused to blame the short turnaround from Tuesday's bruising Anzac Day clash for his side's 34-22 loss to the Storm on Sunday afternoon.
Melbourne were in the same position as their hosts having played the Warriors on Tuesday night but they showed no signs of weariness with four tries in the opening 25 minutes to open up a match-winning lead at the aptly named WIN Stadium.
The Dragons were blown away on the edges with both Storm wingers claiming doubles in the first-half onslaught, and McGregor said the lack of practise time this week was the reason behind his side's defensive lapses.
"It's probably the short turnaround after that game [more so than the comedown in emotion]," McGregor said.
"Not getting on the field to practise your edge 'D' against what's going to be thrown at you [hurts]. You can watch it in the video room and you can talk about, but actually getting on the park and practising it is what this group needs – it's how we learn.
"We didn't defend well enough. You can't defend like that against a quality opposition like Melbourne."
Stand-in skipper Tyson Frizell agreed that his side's first-half effort simply wasn't up to scratch.
"It was pretty disappointing [because] our starts have probably been our go-to throughout the season," he said.
"We're a team that starts well and we were on the back foot from the start. There are no excuses on the short turnaround and stuff like that because Melbourne were in the same boat. Our standards just weren't good enough for us as a team."
To their credit, the Dragons rallied from a 34-4 deficit after 55 minutes to pull within 12 points courtesy of three unanswered tries, but as McGregor conceded, it was too little too late.
Sunday's loss was the Dragons' second on the trot and has them in a four-way tie for second, four points behind the table-topping Storm.
"The pressure was off and we played some attractive footy, which is nice," he said.
"Some of the one-on-one misses from today were unacceptable based on the standards we're setting around here.
"We're a team that wants to set quality standards, and we have – we were leading the competition up until Tuesday – it was just disappointing that we didn't continue how good we have been defensively."