On a night St George Illawarra dominated the Broncos, the biggest cheer was reserved for the 28th minute.
As Daniel Alvaro was assessed for a head knock, Jack de Belin rose to his feet.
Slowly the 5107 fans at Kogarah became aware of what was happening. After 992 days out of the NRL, the former Origin forward was back in the top flight.
The reception grew as Alvaro was taken from the field and eventually became a roar when de Belin took his place in the defensive line.
A solid run followed moments later, before a combination of rust and over-excitement saw the 30-year-old's return quickly turn sour.
De Belin rushed out of the line, looking for a shot on Albert Kelly, only to miss badly and see TC Robati stroll over as a result.
The half-time break could not come soon enough for the lock, de Belin struggling just seven minutes into his stint.
Another missed tackle on Tevita Pangai Jr almost proved costly, Matt Dufty holding the big forward up to deny a try.
The lock found his feet in the second half, eventually jogging from the field in the 54th minute, completing a 26-minute outing.
The forward's ball-playing abilities shone through in the second half, helping create an extra man for Cody Ramsey's 44th-minute try.
De Belin linked up with Dufty again six minutes later, the fullback putting Josh Kerr through a gaping hole.
The improvement throughout the game will surely act as a sign of what's to come, de Belin expected to continue progressing in the coming weeks.
St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin was impressed with the way the lock slid back into the side after more than two years out of the game.
"It's been a big week," Griffin said. "After tonight it's put an end to a lot of the Jack de Belin stuff going forward, about whether he's going to play, how he was going to play. He's answered all your questions.
"I wasn't planning to play him initially, but the way he went last Saturday in the NSW Cup he played really well. To see him in the sheds tonight, in the NRL sheds, I just thought it was great for him and the club.
"The way he played, it shows what a talented player he is. He's obviously a mentally tough person to be able to do that."
While all eyes were on de Belin, it was Dufty who made a statement in his first match since being told his services were no longer required by the Dragons.
The off-contract fullback finished with five try assists and two tries in the 52-24 victory.
Returning from a shoulder injury, Dufty stepped past Tyson Gamble to set up Jack Bird for the team's first try before he threw a brilliant pass that saw Gerard Beale level the scores at 18-18 in the 32nd minute.
Dufty had a try of his own just seconds before the break, the 25-year-old pouncing on a Corey Norman kick as Jamayne Isaako watched the ball in the hope it would run dead.
The try saw the Dragons lead 24-18 at halftime, both teams producing some attacking brilliance and meek defence in a see-sawing affair.
Each time St George Illawarra looked to have claimed the ascendancy, an error handed Brisbane a chance to attack.
The Dragons red-zone defence was poor throughout the opening 40 as Brisbane ran in three tries, Robati making the most of some soft defence with a first-half double.
St George Illawarra took control early in the second half, another Isaako error handing the side attacking field position.
Robati was sin binned for a high shot soon after, Dufty collecting his third try assist with a brilliant cut-out pass to Ramsey.
Kerr's try marked Dufty's fourth assist, the Dragons making the most of the extra man.
The Broncos returned to full-strength, but St George Illawarra were not finished, running in three more tries while also conceding one in what was an outstanding second-half performance.