It's dubbed the Charity Shield, but South Sydney weren't in a charitable mood on Saturday, blowing a rudderless Dragons outfit off the park in sweltering conditions in Mudgee.
The rampant Rabbitohs ran in four first half tries to lead 26-0 at the break, and led 32-0 not long after the resumption, before cruising to a 42-24 win.
With 14 top-liners missing last week's trial loss to St Helens, Dragons coach Anthony Griffin welcomed back a host of big guns to little effect on an afternoon that saw the mercury soar above 36 degrees.
It had no impact on Souths early on, Damien Cook and Cam Murray wreaking havoc through the middle of the park to lay on three of their side's four first-half tries between them.
The Dragons were awful in response, unable to turn a greater share of possession, and 14 tackles inside the Rabbitohs' 20 metres, into a single point in the opening stanza.
The limp showing with all but Jack de Belin and Jack Bird on deck will ratchet up the heat on coach Anthony Griffin, who'll now head into the season proper under a mountain of pressure and nursing some unpleasant selection headaches.
Tyrell Sloan was odds-on to wear the No. 1 once illness befell Cody Ramsey before Christmas, but the talented 20-year-old endured a mixed afternoon, spilling two kicks cold, the first leading directly to Latrell Mitchell's 25th minute try.
He also looked the Dragons' most dangerous player with ball in hand, showing flashes of his supreme talent, but he can expect an aerial volley from rivals come the season proper.
Jacob Liddle started the game at hooker, playing just the first quarter before Moses Mbye shifted from five-eighth to dummy-half to accomodate Jayden Sullivan's injection from the bench.
Sullivan produced a neat show-and-go try midway through the second half, leaving Griffin to consider starting him against the Titans in round two or going with the injured Bird without a trial outing under his belt.
It's a play-making instability few coaches can afford, let alone one as far under the microscope as Griffin will be following the round-one bye.
While players in the spine positions will cop the most rigorous scrutiny, the Dragons brittle defence through the middle is the major concern for the long-suffering Red V faithful.
Souths looked ominously stable in response, Cook, Murray, Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell all outstanding without needing to hit top gear.
Cook and Murray combined beautifully through the middle of the park to put Tom Burgess over for the opening try seven minutes in. Mitchell converted for an early 6-0 lead.
A lovely exchange of passes on the Rabbitohs left edge, started and finished by Walker, saw the margin extend to 12 with Mitchell's second conversion after just 13 minutes.
Sloan put the ensuing restart out on the full, though it didn't immediately cost his side points, with Mat Feagai crossing for the Dragons moments before the drinks break only for the lead-up pass from Zac Lomax to be called forward.
They went close again when a clever catch and kick ahead from Sloan pulled up before the Rabbitohs dead-ball line, a desperate hand from Alex Johnston denying Mbye a four-pointer.
Sloan spilled a bomb from Walker, with Cook catching the Dragons out at the scrum base from the ensuing scrum to put Mitchell across untouched for his side's third try.
A penalty on the first tackle of the following set allowed Mitchell to boot his side well up the park, with Jai Arrow grabbing his side's fourth courtesy of a neat passing exchange between Murray and Ilias.
Mitchell's faultless afternoon off the tee continued as the lead ballooned to 24-0 through 30 minutes.
Sloan spilled another bomb from Ilias next time up the park, though it didn't cost his side points, with the Dragons getting a glut of possession at the Rabbitohs end without finding points.
Mitchell booted a penalty goal on the siren for a 26-0 halftime lead, with the Dragons coughing up back to back errors in their first two sets of the second half.
It allowed Davvy Moale to crash over from close range to extend the lead to 32-0 just seven minutes after the resumption.
Mbye finally hit back for the Dragons, catching Souths out on their line to burrow over from dummy-half to open his side's account in the 49th minute.
Lomax converted to bring the margin back inside 30 points and Sullivan's solo effort added some momentary respectability to the scoreline before Walker strolled through the Dragons brittle middle for his second try.
Hunt put Feagai across with 15 minutes left as the game lost its lustre and both sides turned their attention to next week.