Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds choked back tears as the realisation that good friend Ben Barba's time at the NRL club had come to end with the Bulldogs' premature finals exit.
Last year's grand finalists failed to make it past the first round of the finals, in a season which promised so much with the signing of Tony Williams and return of Trent Hodkinson ending in a disappointing 22-16 elimination final loss to Newcastle.
Plagued by injuries and suspensions to key players, the Bulldogs never really got going in 2013, but it was the fall from grace of Barba that seemed the catalyst for the slide.
Anointed as the face of the game following last year's heroics, Barba's on and off-field life spiralled out of control, culminating in his request for release to join Brisbane in 2014.
It seemed almost fitting that he would end the season sitting in a tracksuit on the bench with his team wallowing to another loss, having injured the same ankle that disrupted his run in to the finals.
The loss and departure of a good friend almost got the better of Reynolds after the game.
"He's a mate. You love hanging around your mates ... I wish him all the best," Reynolds said.
"It's very hard, especially for myself and Ben, we've been together for a while.
"We've got a culture at the Bulldogs and Benny's a big part of it.
"He's going to be missed."
"He's had his problems... obviously the spotlight was on him because he was Dally M player of the year last year and he went so good.
"He's a class player and I'm sure he will be great for the Broncos."
Reynolds said losing in the opening week of the finals did not sit well with him, but it was almost an expected result given the side's struggles for consistency this season.
"(It's) not a wasted year, we played some good footy at stages but we think we're better than seventh," he said.
"We'd be lying if we said we had a good year.
"We were up and down - we'd have a good win then lose the next week.
"You can't win premierships like that. The good sides win three and four games in a row.
"We can say we'll learn from it but if we don't come back next year with a better attitude the same thing is going to happen."