The Bulldogs finished 2021 with their tails well and truly between their legs, collecting the wooden spoon for the first time since 2008 and winning just three games.
Yet the atmosphere at Belmore is one of immense optimism for next year - the only way to go is up and the club has already made some giant strides in that direction.
They have signed six quality players and if they all settle in and fire, the Bulldogs could challenge for a top-eight spot in 2022.
Most of all, they have brought in one of the most respected minds in the NRL, Phil Gould, to fix what has become a broken mess in recent years.
The one concern, however, remains the key halfback spot.
The club signed classy half Matt Burton from Penrith to play number six but who plays alongside him is the big question.
The much-maligned Kyle Flanagan doesn't seem the answer - he was dropped three times during the season and Trent Barrett did the youngster's confidence no favours with the yo-yo selection policy.
Jake Averillo is the other alternative but he is still learning his craft in the challenging playmaking role.
The key hooking position is another area of concern but if Jeremy Marshall-King can stay fit - he managed just nine games this year - he could be a stop-gap solution for a year or two.
Off-field discipline has also been an issue in recent seasons but Gould should ensure the Dogs keep their minds on football and stay out of trouble.
Phil Gould reveals how the Bulldogs will tackle the Adam Elliott drama
Best player: Luke Thompson led the way up front - yet the Bulldogs' salalry cap is such a mess for a while they were considering selling him off at one stage.
Biggest disappointment: Nic Cotric - paying huge money for an outside back is always a big gamble and the former Raider had a disappointing season marred by injury - he bagged just three tries in 14 games.
Key signing: If Burton can re-produce his Penrith form with a far weaker team around him, the Bulldogs are in for a fine season in 2022.
Gains: Josh Addo-Carr (Storm), Matt Burton (Panthers), Matt Dufty (Dragons), Paul Vaughan (Dragons), Brent Naden (Panthers), Tevita Pangai Jnr (Broncos/Panthers)
Losses: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Warriors), Nick Meaney (Storm), Will Hopoate (St Helens), Renouf Atoni (Roosters), Lachlan Lewis (released), Dean Britt (released), Sione Katoa (released), Dylan Napa (released), Chris Smith (released), Brad Deitz (released).
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