Hunter Wildfires coach Scott Coleman knows it's one thing to have a squad glistening with classy individuals.
Getting then to combine and function as a classy team is another matter.
That is the challenge Coleman and his coaching staff face less than two weeks out from the start of the Shute Shield.
The Wildfires went down 29-20 to Canberra side Uni-Norths at Ernie Calland Oval on Saturday.
Coleman was hoping to use the hit out to sharpen up ahead of their season opener, away to Sydney University in a fortnight.
Instead, they were out enthused, out hustled, out thought and out played by a plucky Owls outfit, which finished third in the Canberra competition last season.
The home side had the edge in size and experience, but it was clear they have played little rugby together.
Their ball carriers were isolated. The result was slow ball at the breakdown, slow ball movement and too many turnovers.
The scrum was solid, but the lineout and the shifts wide were clunky and they asked few questions of a committed Owls defence.
Three of the Wildfires' four tries were from close range.
"Credit to the opposition, they were really enthusiastic and you could tell they have played a lot together," Coleman said. "They had 13 of their starting 15 out there from last season. That definitely showed.
"We have a lot of work to do. We know that. We have been saying for three weeks that we are underdone and have new combinations.
"There are a lot of class individuals, but we are just not a class team at the moment.
"We have two more weeks of being able to say that.
"Our fitness is down for the speed of game we are going to have to play at.
"We have to gel or do something soon. Whether that is extra sessions or something else. They are going to have a chat and come back to me on Tuesday with what they want to do."
Adding to Coleman's problem were injuries to halfbacks Leon Fokofuka (hamstring) and Nick Murray (head knock) and lock Sam Liebezeit (knee).
They were already with fly-half Nate De Thiery (broken thumb).
"Leon felt a twinge in his hamstring and we lost a couple more," Coleman said. "I will know more about their fitness and the others on Tuesday."
Played in quarters, the score was locked at 5-all at the end of the first, 10-all at half time, before the visitors took control. They crossed for two tries in the third to lead 22-15 and added another in the final period.
"We need more work," Coleman said. "Our ball runners were isolated and the ball we recycled was slow. It's a fine line. Opposed sessions breeds competition. It is also a risk of injury. It is a fine line on what you do and how much you do.
"It is also time in the saddle. We have to get used to playing together and that will come with more games."
After absorbing early pressure, the Wildfires took the lead from a rolling maul off a five metre lineout.
It was one of the few times the Owls were out-muscled.
The visitors drew level in the 18th minute when halfback Hamish Dawson took a quick tap on half way after a penalty for a high tackle and raced 50 metres to score.
The diminutive Dawson was a constant threat with his snipes in the middle, while out wide Saive Seti out-shone the highly rated Wildfires; three quarters.
Seti was sent to the sin bin at te start of the second quarter for an internation knock down.
Fukofuka crashed over down the short side three minutes later.
Again the visitors responded.
Tueiti Asi turned over possession near half way. In an instant the owls were off. They kicked a ball in behind and the Wildfires failed to clean up.
The Wildfires frustration threatened to boil over as they went to the break level at at 10-all.
"Our exits were poor," Coleman said. "We kept trying to run it from our own end, rather than kick it down field and relieve pressure."
Dawson crossed for his second, darting from the base of a ruck and beating an attempted tackle by replacement prop Nick Dobson.
From there, the Owls were never headed.
Chase Hicks provided a spark in the second half for the Wildfires, while breakaway Henry Stowers and No.8 Kirk Tufuga were strong.