It was the loss South Sydney had to have.
Five weeks ago, after their 54-4 shellacking at the hands of Canberra – the club’s worst loss in 10 years – Rabbitohs bosses hauled the guillotine out of the shed at Redfern Oval and gave it a sharpen.
Heads threatened to roll unless they could find an immediate response and, to coach Michael Maguire’s credit, he did just that.
Assistant coaches Kurt Wrigley and Wayne Collins were told to move on but Maguire survived and will oversee the side in 2017.
And now, he says the past month could prove a turning point for his side.
Asked if his team should be playing finals football, Maguire said: “I think all the teams that are above us deserve exactly what they’ve got.
“You’ve got to do it week in and week out to get in those positions and, unfortunately for us, we weren’t able to show that throughout the season. But we did in this last month.
“We’ve had the highs and the joys but we’ve been through a tough season.
“I stated this a month ago, but it will be the making of us if we choose to.”
And after missing the finals for the first time in Maguire’s tenure, the Rabbits need to turn a corner.
Their four wins to end the season, including Friday night’s 28-10 drubbing of finals-bound Canterbury, will have the cardinal and myrtle diehards asking “where was that all year?”.
The club has been far from settled all season – Dylan Walker was let go after the prescription drug scandal, recidivist offenders Paul Carter and Kirisome Auva’a were sacked after failing to heed warnings about their behaviour, while Luke Keary is bound for the Sydney Roosters following his pre-season bust-up with co-owner Russell Crowe.
“It was just an opportunity that we missed,” skipper Greg Inglis said when asked to reflect on 2016.
“That’s for sure. We’ll sit back and reflect on what it takes to win a footy match in this competition each and every week.”