It was fortunate the Parramatta Eels-Brisbane Broncos game had an entertaining first half because, boy, did the Aussies and Fox Sports whip up the hype.
All that was missing in this, the first NRL game for 67 days, was a billboard proclaiming The Second Coming. Someone in Fox Sports had probably dreamed that up (they would say "conceptualise") before the PR department checked the term, realising it might offend some to refer to a game of rugby league in the same vein as the return of the Messiah.
In the studio before the game, superlatives flew round the room and stuck on the walls. Host Yvonne Sampson ("Vonner" to the "boys" – former players Cooper Cronk, Michael Ennis and Gorden Tallis) whooped it up with a greeting to this sporting "world first" and a barely comprehensible intro.
"All of the challenges and disbelief have made no difference to the relentless way rugby league has got this premiership back in business," Sampson honked. The phrase "the greatest game of all" was prominent, with one billing of "the most elite sporting competition on the planet".
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Righty-ho, then. Barely had we brushed all this spatter from our shirt fronts than they ran the little video package showcasing the skills, hits and drama of the NRL in days past. The best of these has always been Tina Turner and her Simply the Best (now 30 years old) and What You Get Is What You See videos, something the NRL has never come close to re-creating.
This one started with a voiceover telling us rugby league is a simple game. It then soared into stratospheric hype: "Imagine being able to fly without wings," he swooned, "to be as brave as a wild bull – and as menacing."
It was a relief to get to the match itself and the rather more measured tones of commentator Andrew Voss – and dead interesting watching the first NRL comeback game played in front of an empty stadium in Brisbane.
Here, you have to take your hat off to Fox. They filmed the game tightly, few wide or panned shots to the non-existent crowd – and it worked. But wait – who was that cheering and clapping? Ah, that's the new invention, the Virtual Crowd Audio which, when you are watching the action and can't see the crowd, seems almost appropriate.
There's a way to go, though. Two of the biggest phony cheers of the night came when someone played the ball, one of the most common sights in rugby league. It happened again after a pass, one-out from the ruck, another entirely commonplace occurrence not worthy of cheering.
It's a bit like hearing thunderous applause when the umpire calls "Over" in cricket. Clearly timing is as important operating the VCA as it is on the field.
You wonder too, in these fan-less stadiums, whether the lack of a home crowd - baying at the ref - and the linesmen might be telling and change hometown advantage. Eels coach Brad Arthur said after the match the Eels had been "quite comfortable" travelling to the Broncos' Suncorp Stadium.
They now have five games in a row at home but Arthur downplayed it, saying: "We are comfortable playing there but there is no 20,000 or 30,000 fans. Whatever team comes there to play [the Eels], I think they are going to be comfortable there too."
The stats on home wins at season's end will be interesting. So will those on the NRL's new "six again" rule for offences at the play-the-ball, replacing penalties with quickfire running and passing for six more tackles. The game, particularly in the first half, was fast and furious with fewer penalties and the ball in play a long time.
Maybe the jury's out on the new rule – designed to stop teams from slowing down play by deliberately infringing, gaining time to re-set their defensive line.
Upside: rugby league has always been strong on defence and an attacking side with an extended time with the ball tires defenders.
Downside: rugby league has always been strong on defence – it wins plenty of games. That's become a problem for some; not enough entertainment, too many low-scoring matches.
"Six again" could swing things too far the other way. Two of the Eels' first three tries in their 34-6 win came after such rulings. The Broncos, who suffered in terms of field position, possession and too many errors, also had three line dropouts (which also led to an extra set of six against them).
You wonder how many other matches will have one-sided second halves, as this one did – when players run out of puff after prolonged defence. Still, that could be fixed as teams learn not to infringe at the ruck.
The Cowboys also ran away from the Titans in the second half – though it was the Titans' 14th straight defeat – while the Roosters beat the Rabbitohs 28-12, with the new rule not influencing the result.
It could, however, lead to a certain inevitability. You could see the Eels would score as they enjoyed their flood of possession…and that's a problem. It's like rugby's yellow cards. You know, nine times out of 10, the opponents will score when a player is yellow-carded. If that same inevitability applies to the "six again" rule, much of the immediacy and spontaneity of a touchdown could be lost. It could become boring, predictable – as could second half capitulations.
There were other takeaways from this match. The Eels are genuine contenders and they have what the Warriors must long for – a big, settled and imposing pack. They could always do with some wild bulls who can fly without wings.