St George Illawarra's newly minted skipper Ben Creagh has endorsed the Dragons' reshaped attack, which showed signs of rejuvenation as they prepare for a Charity Shield stoush with Souths.
Finally having a chance to practise what they've preached all season, the Dragons' much-maligned offence tested the resolve of an under-strength Cowboys in a 28-22 trial loss at Cairns' Barlow Park on Saturday night.
Creagh said he saw enough in the five tries-to-four defeat to suggest the Red V can trouble the Rabbitohs, who he regards as top four material in 2013.
"We'll do the video on Tuesday night, but I think there were definitely a lot of positives out of our attack," Creagh said.
"If we can get those combinations working even better during the week and heading into Friday's game, that will be a big bonus.
"Those combinations were starting to come together as the game went on [on Saturday] which you would expect.
"We scored a few tries, which was good, and I think the main thing was as the game went on we got better and better."
The Cowboys were missing Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen, but crossed twice in the dying stages to seal an entertaining win in front of a noisy crowd of 12,036.
Classy finishers Brent Tate and Ashley Graham were other notable absentees.
A slow-starting Dragons, who restricted the majority of their starting side exclusively to first-half duties, had pegged back a 14-point deficit at one stage.
A burst of tries to Matt Cooper, Jamie Soward and off-season pick-up Bronson Harrison encouraged coach Steve Price, who has worked hard to reshape the NRL's most impotent attack last season.
"It is a trial and we're not too concerned about the loss, to be honest with you," Price said.
"It's about putting into practice what we worked really hard on during the pre-season, but there were a lot of positive signs there.
"It's a work in progress."
Creagh said the Dragons would work on being "more aggressive" in protecting their own line.
Faced with a tricky opening month to the season, Creagh admitted the Charity Shield would take on a little extra significance.
"I see Souths as a top-four side, easily," he said.
"They've got a very good roster all over the park. They've got a tough forward pack and very quick outside backs."