A packed hill, a sold-out local derby at Kogarah, the Dragons beating the Rabbitohs - the Red V faithful could be forgiven for thinking they'd been transported back to 2010 on Saturday.
They got a poignant reminder that was most certainly 2023 when their side conceded three tries in the final four minutes to almost surrender a 22-point lead, but the Dragons did enough to hang on 36-30 and send the bulk of the 17,000-strong crowd home happy.
With the "house full" sign up, the showdown between two of the games oldest rivals on a pristine afternoon was certainly a throwback to those heady days of the Wayne Bennett era, or further.
The old foes last met in a grand final in 1971, though Bennett's tenure probably seems that long ago given what the joint-venture's fans have endured since.
At times 2023 has been the very worst of it, but there's some cause for optimism following Saturday's boil-over, albeit with some glaring late wobbles.
Sure, the Rabbitohs were without Latrell Mitchell, Cam Murray and Cody Walker, but the Dragons were without a head coach, though it must be said caretaker Ryan Carr's doing a fair impression of one.
Having now beaten the Roosters and Rabbitohs while running the Panthers mighty close at home, he's building quite the case to remain at the club under whomever it ultimately chooses to replace Anthony Griffin.
Shane Flanagan is the clubhouse leader, with skipper Ben Hunt confirming post-match that he's spoken with Flanagan who's assured him his future at the club will be at halfback should he get the nod.
"I had a small chat with Flanno, just about his intentions that he wanted to come in and coach and, if he did get the job, he'd want me to play halfback," Hunt said.
"I keep talking to Andrew (club chairman Andrew Lancaster) and (CEO) Ryan Webb and they're keeping me informed on everything that's going on. I'll just let it take its course."
Hunt made his own case in the halfback regard, laying on two tries and three line-break assists, while Tyrell Sloan also had two try assists.
Dean Young and Ben Hornby remain in the running to take the helm at the club but, given preferred candidate Jason Ryles' rejection of the role at the 11th hour, there'll be few willing to declare anyone a done deal until it's inked.
With all three leading candidates tied up with assistant coaching roles at rival clubs, it appears Carr will see out the season as caretaker. Given the Dragons have produced arguably their two best performances of the season under Carr, they could be in worse hands.
"I think it's got to continue this way for the rest of the season," Hunt said.
"Carry's doing a good job, he's got the locker room down there and the boys appreciate him. As you can see, the last month we're playing some pretty good footy. I don't think we need to upset that."
Three tries in 12 minutes to Jaydn Su'A, Michael Molo and Jaiyden Hunt looked to have sealed the victory with seven minutes to go, only for the visitors to respond with three tries of their own in the final four minutes.
It included two long range efforts that exposed an at times brittle Dragons left edge, but the hosts were deserved winners having led 12-8 and halftime and built a 22-point cushion with only the dying minutes to play.
It was enough to cause palpitations in even a 34-year-old heart, but Carr wasn't going to dwell on the late hiccups in the aftermath.
"Obviously it was a bit stressful at the end there," Carr said.
"It'd be easy for me to sit here and look at the negatives, but I think the positives clearly outweighed all the negatives for us tonight. I just spoke to the boys about enjoying winning.
"They worked really hard this week. We played a really good opposition and we've got to keep building on it and keep getting better and better every week.
"We just played a really good style of footy, and the style that we're trying to keep working towards. I won't go into the details of it, but we know within what we're looking for and what we're trying to chase every week.
"I just felt like for 99 per cent of that game, the boys kept chasing it."
It's a valuable two points heading into next weekend's bye, a chance to reset ahead of a tough run that sees them face the Warriors, Sharks and Raiders, though the local derby is wedged between two games in Wollongong.
Richard Kennar crossed for the opening try eight minutes in after a neat shift caught the Dragons left-edge defence short. Blake Taafe's attempted conversion was waved away.
Hunt's hit-back was spectacular, the skipper finishing off a try started by Jayden Sullivan on his own 30 with an incisive run and offload for Mat Feagai who put his captain away down the western touch-line.
Lomax converted for a 6-4 lead after 18 minutes. It was brief, with the Dragons scoring on their very next trip up the park through Mikaele Ravalawa who was the beneficiary of a flick pass from Sloan.
Lomax's attempted conversion bounced off the upright, keeping the margin at four at the mid-point of the half. He made no mistake with a 32nd minute penalty goal to give the hosts an eight-point cushion in the shadows of halftime.
It looked likely to hold, only for Ravalawa and Lomax to play all around a kick from Hawkins and giving Tass a free swing at the grab he turned into a short pass for Keaon Koloamatangi to cross from close range.
Taafe's rough day off the tee continued , his sideline conversion attempt waved away to keep the margin at 12-8 as both sides headed for the sheds.
The Dragons struck first on the resumption, with Jacob Liddle burrowing across from close range 10 minutes into the second stanza. Lomax converted for an eight-point lead with half an hour to play.
Liddle's opposite number Damien Cook sparked the hit back minutes when he breezed through the Dragons line from dummy-half and raced 60 metres upfield before being grassed by Feagai in pursuit.
It was a brief stay, with the Rabbitohs going coast coast to get Isaiah Taas across from the ensuing play-the-ball. Taafe nailed his first conversion of the afternoon, with the help of the upright, to cut the margin back to four.
Taas quickly turned villain at the other end, running Lomax off the ball in pursuit of a Hunt bomb to concede a penalty. Hunt made him pay, putting Su'A across with a short ball that, with Lomax's conversion, again gave the hosts a 10-point cushion.
When Molo barged across from close range next time up the park, it was clear it was the Dragons' day. Hunt's fist NRL try off a break from Sloan with seven minutes to go was polish on the club's best performance of the season.
Former Dragons Jacob Host's 76th minute try sparked a rear-guard action, with Lachlan Ilias following up a minute later to give the visitors the faintest sniff with the margin back at 10. A miracle looked in the offing when Campbell Graham followed up in the next set, but time ran out on the comeback.
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