FOR the Bulldogs there was no elusive fullback Ben Barba in the season opener against North Queensland Cowboys at Bluetongue Stadium last Saturday night.
When Barba returns is anybody's guess at this stage.
The Cowboys won the clash 24-12 with Jonathan Thurston, the man the Bulldogs want to sign for 2013, orchestrating the win.
But it is almost certain Thurston is staying put with the Cowboys.
But Bulldogs fans should never forget this . . . they had three world-class forwards sidelined and on the night their forwards didn't contain the big Cowboys pack.
Sometimes you have to fight muscle with muscle.
Bulldogs prop James Graham will miss the first nine weeks — suspended for a biting conviction from last year's grand final against Melbourne Storm.
Sam Kasiano (shin splints) and second rower Frank Prichard (groin) are also out for another month.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler knows that you have must have a "plan B".
The Bulldogs now face Parramatta this Thursday at ANZ Stadium.
The Eels thrashed New Zealand Warriors 40-10 in their season opener last Saturday.
Experienced skipper Michael Ennis and lock Greg Eastwood will be expected to lead the way against the Eels.