North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin wasn't hiding his disappointment after receiving a 'wake-up' call from Wagga Tigers on Saturday.
In the first practice match for both clubs, the contrast couldn't have been more stark, as a classy Tigers handed out a 13-goals-to-none hiding against the Farrer League grand finalists.
The Saints coach was keeping the relevance of the game in perspective but still gave a frank assessment.
"That was our first hit-out but I wasn't really happy with the way we performed," Hamblin said.
"I thought blokes gave up too easy when the going got tough and Tigers got on top. It was a kick up the bum - to realise it doesn't just happen. You've got to put in the work."
Neither club kept formal score but the Saints were kept goalless while Tigers booted more than a dozen.
North Wagga were missing a handful of key players including midfielders Jake May and Lachie Steward and forwards Dayne Hancock, Nathan Dennis and Jed Winter.
Less than four weeks before they kick off the season against Barellan, Hamblin said it was about learning lessons rather than looking for a panic button.
That starts immediately with North Wagga to back-up against Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes on Friday night.
"Obviously we've got work to do but it's still a pretty early practice match," he said.
"We'll have a few more blokes back for Mangoplah this week and hopefully we'll be more prepared… it's probably a good wake-up call at the right time of the year."
Hamblin wanted to take nothing away from Wagga Tigers, who he said were right on from the first bounce.
"Super impressed by Tigers. They were well-drilled and moved the ball really well. They've got a lot of outside runners. I couldn't fault them at all."
New signing Tom Keogh was impressive through the midfield for Tigers, along with the returning Jackson Kelly, and Nick Ryan also caught the eye.
In his first game at the club, Tigers coach Troy Maiden was pleased with what he saw, particularly from teenagers Sam McNaughton, Tom McCullough and Cooper Pavitt.
He was in a different boat to Hamblin when it came to the result, but they were rowing in the same direction when judging what it means.
"It was good but obviously we've still got plenty to work on, being so early," Maiden said. "There were some positive signs and we got to work on a few things we'd been practicing… but we've still got a lot to work on."
Tigers will also have another hit out this weekend, taking on Hume League's Brocklesby-Burrumbuttock Saints on Saturday.