THERE were some fans genuinely fearing the Dragons would be lambs to the slaughter when they faced the Roosters on Friday night.
Paul McGregor made some changes that resulted in two wins on the trot, and a loosening of pressure clamps on himself, but the defending premiers were in rare form.
The match played out differently to the way most predicted but it was ultimately another loss. Here's the five things we learned.
Winning is a habit; so's losing.
The Dragons were despised outsiders but, in the end, it was probably one they let one slip.
It looked like it was all going to script when the Roosters led 10-0 and, with Joey Manu's speculator sticking like glue in the hands of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, it looked like they could do no wrong.
The Roosters had their share of misfortune, losing Victor Radley and Sam Verrills to ACL injuries in the space of minutes. Add to the fact that James Tedesco and Josh Morris were both missing from the team sheet and the Chooks looked as vulnerable as they ever get.
It was a golden opportunity for the Dragons and, despite the Roosters injuries, it wasn't one they were merely gifted. They showed plenty of guts and were in arm wrestle early.
They could easily have dropped their heads after Waerea-Hargreaves try and thought 'it's just not our night'. Instead they rallied and got to the front. They had more footy and made less errors, but couldn't close the show against wounded opposition.
In the context of their season it's another disappointing one, particularly when you consider they led Penrith - who are now running second - by 10 with 15 minutes to play only to concede two tries in 12 minutes down the stretch to lose.
They led 14-8 and bombed four tries in a round-one loss to the Tigers as well. They're now 2-5 but - even if you leave disastrous efforts against the Warriors and Bulldogs in place - they could easily be 5-2.
What's apparent, though, is they've seemingly forgotten how to win tight ones. You have to go way back to round six last year when they edged out Manly 12-10 in Wollongong to find a win in a close one.
Luke Keary showed what a million-dollar player is supposed to look like.
The term 'eyes up footy' is so frequently used in rugby league it's almost become cliche, but no half in the competition plays what's in front of them better than the Roosters talisman (with a possible equal in Cody Walker).
Without Tedesco there, Keary stepped up the be the man for his side, first laying on the hit-back try for Brett Morris - seizing on a poor read from Jason Saab - and then going straight through the front door for the match-winner.
It shows all the lessons learned from a couple of seasons being mentored by Cooper Cronk - a role he's now playing for young-gun Kyle Flanagan. You do wonder what type of players Ben Hunt and Corey Norman might be had they received the same guidance at key stages of their career.
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As is stands though, they're taking up the two marquee spots on the Dragons roster but McGregor has had to shift them both out of the halves at different stages to try and spark his side.
It's wrong to suggest Norman isn't having a crack. He is. He had more runs than Keary on Friday night, the quality was just different. Neither are shifting off the cap any time soon either, so the challenge will continue for McGregor.
Matt Dufty is adding more strings to his bow.
There's been a lot of people surprised by Dufty's supposedly newfound ball-playing ability in recent weeks. It's interesting because there's no end of people within Dragons camp, back to his prodigious NYC days, who've said he could do it.
It's only now becoming apparent at NRL level, with six try assists in his past three games. It's part of a directive from coaching staff to maximise his involvements, not merely hunt for his own opportunities.
McGregor told Fox Sports after the match that he's largely done away with block plays to free up his No. 1.
The challenge will be whether he can maintain it as rivals do more video analysis on him. After a big impact earlier in his career, sides started just letting him drift across the park before swarming him as he ran out of room.
He's now becoming a multi-tool attacking threat and, at present, is about the only player fitting that description in the Dragons line-up. It's not going to win them games, but Dufty couldn't be doing a lot more at the moment.
He's a literally huge talent, but Jason Saab still has a bit to learn.
Ordinarily you wouldn't single out a young guy after a loss that had multiple factors at play but, the reality is, there's been a lot of noise around the 19-year-old of late, specifically agitating for an NRL start or a release from his deal; despite having three years to run.
Fans have been clamouring to see him get a crack but rewarding that type of thing with an immediate start is not the type of precedent you want to set as a coach - particularly when the player concerned has played just three NRL games.
He got his chance after Jordan Pereira was suspended and produced a lot of quality in 13 runs for 110 metres, but was caught out of position on a few occasions, most notably the awful defensive read that gifted Morris his second try.
It was a key moment in the game. There was a fair bit of noise about it from fans in the aftermath, but his performance was always going to be scrutinised under the circumstances.
That might be another lesson, perhaps more for his management than for him, but hopefully he gets another chance this week because there's a lot of upside to his talent.
Where to from here?
Ironically, the Dragons find themselves in precisely the same position they were when the NRL shut down - facing a must-win clash on the road to Canberra to keep their slim finals hopes afloat.
With some other results, they're still only one win outside the eight but, using 10 wins as the finals standard, they'll need to win eight of their next 12. Too steep? Very likely.
The Raiders have been a tad hit-and-miss since resuming but this match will now be a glorious return to fortress Canberra on a chilly July evening.
Ricky Stuart's side will still rightfully start heavy favourites, but the Dragons can only hope to give themselves the same opportunity they did on Friday night.