After an encouraging set of pre-season performances, this opening day defeat in the Principality Premiership might be regarded as a huge letdown. Undeniably there were disappointing aspects as Swansea extended their winning run against the Blue & Blacks to five matches over the past three seasons. But there were also rays of light dotted throughout the new look team.
Six newcomers in the starting line-up, if you include Shaun James on his return after a season with Cornish Pirates, was always likely to make cohesion elusive in these early days. Yet there were individuals who clearly bring something new to the squad. As well as finishing with a 100 per cent success rate with his six goal-kicks, Craig Evans showed subtlety and ambition in the pivot's role, most notably when his finger tip pass created the space for Thomas James to show his blinding pace en route to a spectacular second-half try.
James' effort promised exciting things for the season ahead, but, equally, it reminded everyone that all the attacking power in the world is useless unless the ball is moved regularly to the game breakers. In the pack, Dafydd Rosser and Gavin Lucas gave notice that they will be willing workhorses as the forwards increase their power in the coming weeks.
But, as Justin Burnell ruefully reflected afterwards, promise must be turned into performance and then into winning results.
The early play, despite regularly incurring the wrath of pedantic referee Huw David, was certainly encouraging. Having fallen six points behind to a brace of Stuart Thomas penalty goals in the opening five minutes, the Blue & Blacks immediately hit back with a sweet move that maximised skipper Gareth Gravell's initial opening. An overlap was eventually created on the left for James Goode to cross unopposed and Evans converted. Thomas and Evans then exchanged penalty goals twice as the lead changed hands regularly.
Cardiff led 13-12 after 29 minutes but four minutes later their defence let them down as Nicky Thomas crossed under the posts and his namesake converted.
Cardiff needed an early score in the second-half but wasted several chances. Instead, another Thomas penalty goal extended the visitors' lead to 22-13 before Thomas James served up his moment of magic, squeezing through the narrowest of gaps on the right touchline and racing 40 metres for a breathtaking try. Evans converted and when he added a penalty goal after Stuart Thomas was sin-binned the Blue & Blacks led 23-22 and faced 14 men for the next 10 minutes.
Incredibly, it was Swansea who scored the next two tries. Flanker Ben Lewis shrugged off an unconvincing tackle for a try near the posts and Nicky Thomas kicked and chased along the touchline for a try with the cover defence nowhere to be seen. The full back also converted both tries to really rub salt in the wound.
An 80th minute try by Gareth Gravell did little to hide Cardiff's embarrassment as the game slipped away from them.