WITH the odds on a Pat's three-in-a-row shortening by the day, the Senior Championship has been crying out for someone to stand up and make a bold statement of intent.
Even without playing all that well, the signs seemed to be directing Joe Ward back out the Peninsula to a familiar Lordship haunt, but Newtown Blues reset the satnav in emphatic style at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday evening.
Perhaps buoyed by the champions' lacklustre display the previous night, and certainly boosted by the return of Andy McDonnell, the 2011 runners-up left their old rivals Mattock Rangers for dead with a swashbuckling display of pace, power and subtle finishing.
Having conceded 2-3 inside 14 minutes and 2-9 by half-time, it was difficult to gauge whether Mattock really had the stomach for a fight, but their opponents mercilessly aimed for the jugular and didn't let up until their prey was well and truly slain.
Starting without David Reid (holidays) certainly didn't help, but the manner of Mattock's second-half capitulation may pose more questions than it answers in terms of the Blues' prospects over the next four weeks.
They certainly won't lord the middle third of the pitch in the same manner against Pat's, but there was definitely enough quality in their overall display to suggest they will take the champs the distance.
This one, however, could have been declared a knockout after 15 minutes.
With both sides registering two points in a bright opening, Blues kicked 2-1 in six minutes to light the touch paper on what turned out to be a rout.
Barry Sharkey drew first blood with a neat finish from long Andy McDonnell delivery and Sharkey then turned provider to set up Hugh McGinn for an unstoppable drive to the roof of the net in the 14th minute.
Mattock were visibly rattled and while they recoverd to trade the next two points thanks to a brace from Niall Sharey. the game drifted over the horizon as half-time approached and Blues opened a 2-9 to 0-5 interval lead.
In a fixture that has rarely been won more than a couple of scores over the years that 10-point margin was as a wide as an ocean, and if Glen O'Reilly worked hard to rally his troops during half-time, it was all quickly unravelled by Sharkey, who stroked home his second and Blues' third goal within 25 seconds of the restart.
Goals four and five followed before the end of the thrd quarter via McDonnell and Derek Kierans, but Mattock had long since thrown in the white towel.
They kept plugging away, but it was half-hearted at best, and they fell 21 points in arrears before plundering two late goals, the first an og and the second an excellent finish from Shane Grimes.
Blues may have been a little lax defensively in that final quarter, but they didn't let up offensively and added a sixth goal two minutes from full time when Hugh McGinn earned and converted a penalty in what turned out to the last action of an extremely one-sided contest.
Just how good Blues were, only time and some stiffer challenges will tell, but for their opponents it could spell the end of a remarkable and successful era.
NEWTOWN BLUES: Conor Barton; Aidan O'Brien, Thomas Costello, Andrew Tinley; Paul Moore, Eoghan Judge, Jimmy Murray 0-2; Keith Lynch, John Kermode; Stephen Moonan 0-1 '45', Hugh McGinn, Andy McDonnell 1-4; Derek Kierans 1-0, Barry Sharkey 2-0, Robbie Carr 0-1. Subs: Jamie Carr for J Murray (28), Cormac McQuillan for J Kermode (45), Conor Branagan for D Kierans (45), John McEneaney for E Judge (48).
MATTOCK RANGERS: Mike Englishby; Sean Gilsenan, David Brennan, Shane Maguire; Michael McKeown 0-1, Niall Callan, Daire Englishby; Daniel Bannon, Hugh Donnelly; Adrian Reid 0-2, Shane Grimes 1-0, Ryan Leneghan; Christy Grimes 0-2, Robbie Brennan, Niall Sharkey 0-4 (0-1f). Subs:
REFEREE: Kenneth Dunne.