When Wellington winger Wes Goosen bagged a double inside seven minutes against Otago on Sunday, the signs were ominous.
With the Mike Gibson Memorial trophy on the line, Wellington looked set to run away with the contest in the early moments.
Otago hung in the fight, but in the end the Wellingtonians were too strong and opened their Mitre 10 Cup account with a 34-16 bonus point win.
After Goosen's early fireworks the match slowed down considerably. Both sides handled the football like a baked potato soaked in butter – passing it on quickly before it was inevitably dropped. Discipline also hampered both sides, with the penalties free-flowing.
The bright spot of the first 40 minutes was the dominating display from discarded All Black Vaea Fifita. With a point to prove in the No.6 jersey, Fifita gave the Otago defence plenty of headaches with his damaging runs.
Most of them amounted to nothing on the scoreboard, however. Jackson Garden-Bachop added a penalty goal to push the lead to 17, before two penalties off the boot of Otago first five-eighth Finn Strawbridge closed the gap to 11 at the break.
It was much of the same in the second half. Both sides would get into a promising position before the ball either squirted free or was turned over at the breakdown. The sides again traded penalty goals, before Wellington winger Malo Tuitama crashed over the tryline.
After not being able to cross the stripe for 59 minutes, Otago immediately hit back through Kurt Hammer. However, when Tuitama crossed for his second in the 77th minutes, the result was put beyond doubt.
Meanwhile, there was a mauling in Invercargill, as Hawke's Bay overpowered Southland 31-10 in the later game.
The crowd at Rugby Park Stadium were treated to a wooden spoon masterclass, with both of last year's bottom of the table dwellers doing their best to live up to their reputations.
The MVP of the day was the rolling maul, which was responsible for all four of the Magpies' tries.
Southland simply had no answer for the Bay's laborious lineouts, with tries to Mark Braidwood, Siosiua Kaifa and an Ash Dixon double giving the Magpies a comfortable victory in their season opener.
Southland were given a chance to get back into the game when Hawke's Bay went down to 13 men after two yellow cards midway through the second half, but the home side couldn't make their advantage count – starting their season the same way they ended their last.
Wellington 34 (Wes Goosen 2, Malo Tuitama 2 tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 cons, 2 pens)
Otago 16 (Kurt Hammer try; Finn Strawbridge 3 pens, Sio Tomkinson con)
Southland 10 (Isaac Te Tamaki try; James Wilson con, pen)
Hawke's Bay 31 (Mark Braidwood try, Siosiua Kaifa try, Ash Dixon 2 tries; Tiaan Falcon 4 cons, pen)