The Dubbo Demons received a wake-up call on Saturday as a strong half-time lead slipped away in a disappointing and frustrating Central West AFL loss at Bathurst.
The Demons had made winning away at Bathurst a top priority this season and they had a great chance to tick that box when they led the Bushrangers Outlaws by 14 points at half-time on Saturday.
But in what coach Shayne Wilsesmith described as a case of "spectating" and not playing out the four quarters, the Outlaws stormed back in the third and took the lead before holding off a late Demons rally to win 9.14.68 to 9.12.66.
"It's frustrating because it was there for the taking and we didn't take it," Wilsesmith said.
"That was the talk in the sheds afterwards. We gave that one up.
"It's a four-quarter game and we played two-and-a-half, really."
The Demons began the better at George Park No. 2 but couldn't make it count on he scoreboard as the sides finished the first quarter all square at 14-all.
The second term was where the visitors began to stamp their authority, not allowing the Outlaws a goal while kicking two of their own.
Leading by 14, the Demons went into the main break well in control.
However, that control quickly slipped from their grasp as the Outlaws kicked five goals to one in a dominant third quarter showing.
They went into the final term leading 7.14.56 to 5.10.40 and while the Demons won the fourth quarter it wasn't enough.
"They took it for granted and looked at other people to do the job," Wilesmith said of his players.
"We lost momentum and they came out in that third quarter and it took us awhile to get that momentum back.
"We got it back late but there was not enough time."
The amount of ball and opportunities provided to the forward line was one positive for the Demons, allowing the league's leading scorer Bevan Charlton-White to boot four more goals while Tom Budd chipped in with two majors.
"It's not dire straights," Wilesmith said after admitting some "soul-searching" was needed.
"Yes, not getting the four points hurts and it will probably be valuable at the end of the season but it's a wake-up call for us.
"We need to play the four quarters and we need to keep going. We have the ability to do it, we just need to turn up each week."
A similar 21-point loss to the Outlaws Rebels in the first round made the result more frustrating but going close twice in games they should have arguably won while missing a handful of players does provide some comfort.
"We know we can beat the Bathurst teams," Wilsesmith said.
"They're well-and-truly not invincible and obviously we can beat the Giants. The only one we haven't pitted ourselves against is the Tigers."
The Demons will get the chance to test themselves against the Orange Tigers when they welcome them to South Dubbo Oval next round.