THERE'S a few contenders, but Thursday's loss to the Rabbitohs has to be among the most disappointing for the Dragons this season.
Disappointing, because they probably played their best footy of the season early on only to virtually capitulate and drop another game they needed to bank - and half had in their account.
It continues to be a tough school, but here are the five things we learned from the Dragons loss to the Rabbitohs on Thursday.
The finals bird has flown.
You'd be happy to be proven wrong, but a finals run is merely a mathematical possibility from here.
In a shortened season, an 0-4 start pretty-much ruled them out of the race straight out of the gate, but they remarkably fought there way back into it.
It's the product of a few things, in particular tweaks to the rules that have seen the top sides put a bigger gap between themselves and the rest.
Sides outside that leading pack haven't made a habit of pinching games off the top dogs as they've often been able to in the past.
It kept them in the hunt, but the Dragons have simply dropped too many games to other riders in the Peleton.
In round 11 they had a chance to draw level with Cronulla on the ladder and - despite a good performance - couldn't get it done.
They had the same opportunity against the Bunnies, and led 16-0, before blowing it. Now they have the Roosters - who'll be hardened by a close call against the Titans - and Eels in the next fortnight.
Beyond that, they still have the Raiders and Storm in the last three rounds. They've also got the Knights, while even the Broncos, Titans and Cowboys showed signs of life over the weekend.
To win the necessary six games from those eight does not appear realistic. It'll no doubt bring some tough conversations at the end of round 20.
Fadeouts are all mental.
The questions everyone has asked is how?
In the past the Dragons have started seasons strongly and faded down the stretch. Now they're repeating the pattern in single games.
People will always point the finger at the coach, but those in-game drifts don't come down to coaching. On Thursday there was a game plan in place that saw them shoot out to a 16-0 lead.
Why they went away from it is anyone's guess, but there's evidently still a lack of confidence from a team that hasn't won whole lot over the past year and a bit.
That lack of confidence leaves them unable to handle adversity or in-game setbacks. You could just see on Thursday when Alex Johnston took his first intercept that the heads dropped - here we go again.
The big guns are out of sync.
If you take a look at all the top teams in the competition, the common denominator is that their best players are also their most consistent.
Take a look at the Dragons this year and it's the complete opposite. People look at the number rep and Origin players on their roster and wonder how the wins and losses column looks like it does.
The likes of Hunt, Norman, Vaughan, Frizell, have had their strong performances this season, but they haven't produced it on the same night. Tariq Sims has had his issues with suspension.
Cam McInnes and Vaughan are the only senior players with claims to consistency. You wouldn't blame any one of them individually, they just haven't put it together as a collective.
The more consistent performers have been the younger players, Dufty, Lomax, Aitken and, more recently, Adam Clune who take up far less space in the salary cap. In that vein:
It's time to give the youngsters a crack.
It's easy for fans and observers to make this call. Coaches, who have a far better understanding of players temperament and and other factors beyond talent, are more cautious.
Rightly so to, you can easily shatter a young player's confidence if you lob them into and underperforming team, even if they'd otherwise be ready. You might put a player like Jayden Sullivan in that category.
However, the time's right for some. Tristan Sailor is the obvious case. He would've liked more than 13 minutes on Thursday, and McGregor would've like to have given him more, but it wasn't that simple in the way the game played out.
Any coach wold be unwise to reshuffle the spine when its riding a 16-0 wave of momentum. It's also not advisable to throw a guy on to chase a deficit.
It does show how difficult it is to get a player like that into the game at any point, and leaves you to consider whether you should bite the bullet and give them the 80.
Sailor's no saviour, and shouldn't be asked to be, but he's not a rookie either, he can handle it. With no Canterbury Cup on offer those fringe guys are getting no footy at all.
The younger guys who've been a given a crack - Dufty, Lomax, Aitken - have taken it. Jackson Ford showed a lot of upside in his first start on Thursday.
The legitimate question you have to ask is: would they do worse? At the very least you'd say, by now, that some of the veterans should no longer have a mortgage on their spots.
Teams starting to do their homework on Dufty.
Dufty has been outstanding this season, and he had another blinder on Thursday despite the loss, but he's certainly become item No. 1 on rivals' tip sheets.
Alex Johnston grabbed two intercept tries on Thursday, one thrown by Dufty.
There's no doubt the revelation of his passing ability has taken his game to another level. It caught opposition teams off guard early on but they're starting to cotton on, evidenced by Johnston's determination to jam the passing channel.
On the positive front, Dufty is certainly awake to that fact.
"When you first come into first grade it works for a few weeks but then people can catch onto your habits," Dufty said.
"I've been working really hard on passing with Loey [Lomax], Euay and both wingers. They've been getting their timing perfect and it's been working for us.
"Obviously Souths did some video on it with me throwing that intercept. I'll certainly have a look at that and see where I can improve."