THERE is no hiding from the fact Thursday night’s mullering by Saints was a kick in the guts.

The opening game of a new season is always something to look forward to.

So to see the team perform well below expectation hurts, and especially so against a fierce rival like St Helens whose fans are never backwards in rubbing it in when things have not gone well.

Wolves fans really do need to expand the catalogue of cheeky chants that can touch a nerve in response.

It’s also tough on fans when coaches use the early rounds to warm their teams into the competition, rather than having them firing on all cylinders.

I truly believe that Saints were a little bit more ‘warmed up’ than Warrington in round one and it was enough to make a huge difference.

It is clear that protection of the players’ durability over the full campaign plays heavily on Tony Smith’s mind, and it is fair to say he’s not done too bad a job of having his troops right at the back end of a season during his time in charge.

Joint captain Michael Monaghan had revealed that around a dozen Wolves had surgery after putting their bodies on the line in the 2013 season, and it can take players a match or two to find the groove again.

When you factor in the loss of experienced and influential players from last year, there is much to put into place.

But this is not a game of patience for Smith, seeing steady growth and development by the first team.

He wants to see immediate improvement like the rest of us, and has highlighted several times this week how a better kicking game and more composure would serve the team well.

He wants significant advancement in these areas against Leeds Rhinos.

It is important now that the opening night show is not allowed to blight the year, as Saints found to their own cost in 2013.

Momentum can still grow if we allow it to.

The last time Wolves did not deliver on opening day was the 28-18 loss to Huddersfield Giants at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2011 – and most Warrington fans will remember that season ended with Wolves at the top of the table!