The result may not have gone his way but John Sutton's Testimonial match at the Rabbitohs' spiritual home provided the 34-year-old with a timely reminder of why he loves the club so much and steeled him for the season ahead.
The Panthers proved far too strong in a 28-8 win but South Sydney's longest serving player was happy to get 40 minutes under his belt and share the night with the Bunnies faithful at Redfern Oval.
As he prepares to enter his 16th season in the NRL you'd think nothing would faze Sutton but he admitted the number of fans who braved the miserable conditions and the reception they gave him did stir the butterflies.
"First game back I was a bit nervous," Sutton said.
"When I ran out I had butterflies but I was ready to rip in, because just looking around it was awesome to see so many people here.
"I can't thank the member and fans enough for coming out. They're the best in the league.
"They always turn up rain, hail or shine and they are always very supportive."
The Panthers made it clear early on that they had come across town intent on spoiling the party and they had two tries on the board within the first 15 minutes.
The form of Damien Cook, Cody Walker and two-try winger Jacob Gagan were positives for the Bunnies and Sutton said despite the loss last year's preliminary finalists are well placed for 2019.
"Even though we lost tonight I think we're in good shape for the start of the season," Sutton said.
"I'm definitely happy I got 40 minutes under my belt and we've got another trial next week [against the Dragons] so I'll be looking to play some more minutes and get match fitness."
The annual Charity Shield clash in Mudgee will see the intensity go up another level and give new coach Wayne Bennett a good indication of where his team is at ahead of the round one showdown with the Roosters on March 15.