HUDDERSFIELD Giants paid the ultimate price for a slow start as they opened their season with defeat against Super League champions St Helens.
In the opening 20 minutes, it was as if stage fright had struck as the visitors grabbed three tries to shoot into a 14-2 lead to leave their hosts stunned.
But once the nerves had settled and the Giants began to find their feet, it became a totally different story.
For the remainder of the contest, Huddersfield matched the champions stride for stride and could claim, with some justification, that they were the stronger second-half side.
Unfortunately, that counted for very little in the final analysis, with the Giants left to reflect on what might have been had they not made such a shaky start to the contest.
It's hard giving any side a 12-point lead, but when it's St Helens, it's simply asking for trouble!
In that nightmare opening, the home side looked all at sea defensively.
They looked flat-footed against the razor-sharp Saints attack, with tries in the opening quarter from Lee Gilmour, Leon Pryce and Ade Gardner summing up the state of play.
There had been an early glimmer of hope when Chris Thorman banged over a 10th-minute penalty to make it 4-2.
But with Saints responding immediately with two further tries, the signs were looking ominious.
A few years ago, there's no doubt it would have signalled the beginning of the end for a Giants side.
Not any more.
Huddersfield Giants are now made of far sterner stuff and, by the end of the contest, Saints were clearly relieved to have held on to collect the two League points.
By half-time, the visitors' lead had been reduced to 14-10 and coach Jon Sharp's side were finally in business.
Kevin Brown was the man behind the revival, playing the vital role in setting up Mat Gardner for the Giants' first try of the season.
That came in the 23rd minute when Brown showed incredible strength to charge into a three-man tackle and then somehow release Gardner to dive over in the corner.
Thorman added a magnificent touchline conversion, and there was finally a ray of hope.
It became even brighter three minutes before the break when Thorman added a second penalty and, all of sudden, it was the hosts with their tails up.
Early second-half pressure forced a St Helens' drop-out as the Giants continued to turn the screw.
But in the 50th minute, Saints struck what turned out to be the killer blow.
Good work from Jason Cayless and James Roby enabled Gilmour to cross for his second, the lead was extended to 18-10 and the balance of power was back with St Helens - temporarily, at least.
But for a second time, the Giants dug deep and began to get back on top.
They sensed their time to strike had come in the 57th minute when the visitors were reduced to 12 men following Jon Wilkin's late and crude challenge on Thorman.
Within a minute, Eorl Crabtree had plunged over for what he thought was a try, only to find it ruled out by St Helens official Steve Ganson, who was acting as video referee.
Despite that close call, the Giants were unable to take full advantage of the extra man, although Ryan Hudson came desperately close to plunging over in the 63rd minute.
On another day, the Giants may well have taken the chances they had created and been celebrating what would have been an excellent victory.
Yes, Super League XII may have opened with a defeat.
But there were more than enough signs to suggest, the wins will soon be coming.