Generation next can't come soon enough for Wests Tigers after the current crop were made to look second rate in a 36-18 loss to Manly at Campbelltown Stadium.
Five-eighth Kieran Foran was brilliant for the Sea Eagles as he controlled play beautifully in setting up three of his side's six tries, Justin Horo and Jamie Lyon both finishing with doubles as Manly leapfrogged Melbourne to move up to third on the ladder.
Lyon finished with a personal haul of 20 points, both tries long-range efforts including a 95 metre four-pointer when an errant Braith Anasta pass was kicked into his lap.
On the same day the club announced the re-signing of boom halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses to four-year deals, departing five-eighth Benji Marshall and halfback Anasta were particularly poor for the hosts.
It was only after the second half introduction of Curtis Sironen that the Tigers came to life, two quick tries reducing Manly's lead to just 10 points with a quarter of the game to go.
They ran out of steam however as Lyon added a penalty goal to take the lead out to two converted tries, Daly Cherry-Evans putting the icing on the cake six minutes from fulltime.
There was one highlight for the hosts with David Nofoaluma producing an effort which will be hard to beat for try of the year - reeling in a handy Marshall chip kick as he flew over the sideline before acrobatically touching down with two hands while upside down.
Marshall's deft kick was in contrast to some poor defence, his attempt to stop Steve Matai scoring off a Foran pass comical, while he looked off the pace in a foot race with Lyon for his length of the field effort.
Another Anasta drop ball gifted Lyon his second after the re-start as David Williams picked up the crumbs, with his skipper finishing off the 65 metre try.
Robbie Farah celebrated his 200th game with a four-pointer which was quickly followed by Tim Simona's blindside dash, but that was the end of the comeback for the home side.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey admitted his side was building nicely towards what will be a ninth straight finals campaign.
"It was a pretty scrappy match but we did enough to keep our noses in front," Toovey said.
"I think we're getting a regular team on the field which always helps.
For the Tigers the loss signalled a shift in focus towards 2014.
"Winning's a habit, probably losing is too," said Farah.
"It's been the story of our season, pretty frustrating, we've learnt how to lose.
"We need to build some sort of platform going into next year ... you don't want to be finishing the season with six or seven losses in a row."