Four games, four losses. The season is just weeks old and, on the face of it, Steve McNamara's Catalan Dragons look like they're heading for a second end-of-season stint in the Middle 8 qualifiers.
But, boosted by the return of the talismanic Tony Gigot from a troublesome year with the FFR judiciary, there were enough signs in their close 14-16 defeat to Wakefield Trinity to give some hope for the year ahead.
Trinity's win, their third at Stade Gilbert Brutus in as many years, came on the back of some strong defence and some inspirational attacking runs, not least by Tom Johnstone.
The Dragons points came from just two tries, by Ben Garcia in the first half and Lewis Tierney in the second, plus the boot of Lucas Albert (one conversion, plus two first-half penalties).
But there were periods of the game when their attack pressed hard and looked likely to cross the Trinity line for the win, only to be denied. And – despite the Wakefield defence, the Catalan habit of giving away cheap penalties or the handling errors which plagued both sides in chilly conditions – they were never that far off the scoreline.
Reece Lyne opened the scoring for Wakefield after 15 minutes, but Garcia and Albert brought the Dragons right back into the game 14 minutes later with a converted try for a 6-4 lead.
A minute later, Wakefield conceded a penalty within easy kicking distance of their goal and Albert stretched the lead to four points. Given the final score though, the team and coach might consider that a tap and run would have been better: close kicking distance is also close running distance …
And on 33 minutes Johnstone gathered the ball in his own 20 and set off down the touch line, defying the effects of last year's broken leg, plus chasing full-back David Mead to dot the ball down in the corner and level the scoreboard at 8-8.
Another kickable Catalan penalty just before half time saw them enter the dressing rooms at the break with a slender 10-8 lead.
The second half saw a good quarter hour of tit-for-tat pressure and defence between the two sides before David Fifita escaped lax attempts to tackle him and crossed the whitewash for a try, converted by Liam Finn, to restore the lead Trinity had enjoyed early in the game.
A penalty shortly after gave the visitors a 10-16 lead, and they would never go behind again.
On 65 minutes, Lewis Tierney did his own touch-line run to score in the same corner as Johnstone in the first half but the conversion was too much for Albert.
A frantic 15 minutes followed, but the Dragons could not close, never mind overtake, that two-point gap. And the Wakefield try which would put the win beyond doubt, proved just as elusive for the visitors.
But Trinity do look good value for their three wins from three games opening to the season and, despite the loss, the Catalans were a vast improvement on the side that lost to Hull KR last week.
Whether that will be enough to see them through against Leeds at Headingley on Friday though…