AS wake-up calls go, it was the equivalent of having Brian Blessed holding a megaphone to your ear while screaming “Gordon’s alive!” at full volume.
If Nathan Brown hadn’t realised the size of the task in transforming St Helens back to genuine Super League contenders, he does now.
Only a late try prevented Saints the ignominy of being nilled at their own ground for the first time in more than 30 years after they were thumped 40-4 at Langtree Park by Brown’s former club Huddersfield Giants.
Saints overachieved massively last season in coming within a game of the Grand Final.
But with the novelty having worn off for the clutch of youngsters who emerged last season and greater things expected of Lance Hohaia and Josh Perry, this is the campaign when reality will truly bite.