So where to now then?
The great revival has fallen flat and the next fortnight looms as St George Illawarra's 2020 version of a 'choose your own adventure' book.
Back-to-back premiers the Roosters and title threat Parramatta await - and the Dragons are already at a tipping point, where the results will provide a decent indication of the best course of action for next season.
Unlikely upsets would put them back in the finals race, crushing defeats would leave them on the brink of needing a major rebuild, rather than minor surgery to the squad.
Assuming Adam Clune is fit, this year's debutant is now the most steady hand Paul McGregor has available.
But who should partner him in the halves?
Corey Norman remains a riddle wrapped in a ball-playing mystery inside an enigma.
Tristan Sailor has been offered precious little opportunity. It was unfair for him to be left as the last hail Mary when trailing Souths in a wild and entertaining contest at Kogarah on Thursday night.
But it also can't be expected Sailor come on with the Dragons surging to a 16-nil lead then handing it back by half-time.
And is Sailor committed to the Dragons beyond this year? His selection or otherwise will be an obvious clue.
Then there's Ben Hunt, the million-dollar marquee who wants to play halfback, but his best recent form has been at hooker. Taking the pressure off Hunt with Clune directing forward traffic - including the return of Korbin Sims and Trent Merrin - could be the best compromise, allowing captain Cameron McInnes to return to his most dynamic role at hooker.
After the doomsday double, St George Illawarra have a very winnable three weeks against Brisbane, Gold Coast and North Queensland.
But they're two games and a decent chunk of for-and-against out of the eight now, so by then it would be applying to band-aids to gaping wounds, if they've already fallen to the Roosters and Eels.
Brayden Williame is likely to return from a calf injury in time to solve another headache for McGregor, after Euan Aitken suffered a hamstring strain in the South Sydney loss.
Aitken and Matt Dufty have turned their careers around, but against the Tigers, Panthers, Sharks and now Rabbitohs, the Dragons' greatest flaw has been game management.
When the contest is there to be won, the Dragons lacked the control and composure to finish the job every time. You could have added the Bulldogs game at WIN Stadium too except for Canterbury's extraordinary late implosion.
Now more than ever, St George Illawarra's direction for the rest of this season, but more importantly beyond, rests on who is playing in the halves.