WEXFORD signed off on what was regarded as a very progressive 2010 championship - which included taking Dublin to extra-time, beating Galway and restricting eventual All-Ireland champions Cork to 12 points -- only to open the new season on a dismal low after being hit for a total of 8-28 in two games.
They could argue that DIT, who put 2-18 on them yesterday week, were far fitter and had more match practice but they had no such excuse yesterday when leaking 6-10 against an experimental Dublin side at Parnell Park.
It was embarrassing at times for Wexford as Dublin were able to slice through their defence with incredible ease. The goal rush was started in the ninth minute by the impressive Kevin McManamon, who spun off his marker and beat Tom Hughes with a crisp left-footed drive, and was completed in final minute when sub Eoghan O'Gara steered in their sixth goal.
In between, Dean Kelly, Graham Cullen, Padraig Lee and Bernard Brogan all goaled while Wexford's sole response in this department came from Daithi Waters in the 68th minute.
Wexford manager Jason Ryan spent a long time talking matters over with his backroom team on the pitch before returning to the dressing-room to begin the process of restarting the season.
It will be done on the training ground and requires a massive effort to restore the stability required to give them a decent chance of winning promotion from Division 3. Their campaign begins against Waterford on February 6, a challenge which will require a dramatic improvement on their performances over the last two weekends.
"If we perform like that, Waterford will beat us at Wexford Park. We know that. We made an awful lot of basic errors and Dublin punished many of them. We gave away some inexcusable goals and now we've got to work at rectifying the situation. There's a lot of specific work to be done on the training ground," said Ryan.
Dublin won't read too much into their goal-fest. Still, credit to them for availing of their chances but they know that many of the opportunities arose from opposition weakness. With Dublin winning so many individual battles, Wexford were in dire trouble from early on and things got progressively worse.
Redmond Barry gave Wexford an early lead but it was all over after 14 minutes, by which stage Dublin had opened an eight-point lead (2-4 to 0-2). McManamon's goal was followed a minute later by a second from Kelly and by half-time Dublin had gone 10 points clear (2-9 to 0-5).
They didn't score for 14 minutes of the second half but their first breakthrough yielded a goal from Cullen and they added three more in the final 10 minutes.
The only downside of Dublin's performance was their poor point return in the second half with Bernard Brogan's 60th-minute strike as their only success. Still, manager, Pat Gilroy won't be overly concerned by that as he continues to combine experience and freshness in his attempt to deepen the panel ahead of the National League.
Alan Hubbard, Darren Daly, Sean Murray, McManamon, Kelly, Cullen and Lee all did well while the arrival of Brogan as a sub greatly increased the panic levels in the Wexford defence.
"It's all about having a look at as many players as possible. We're giving lads every chance, especially those who did well in the Dublin championship. We want to see if they're good enough to step up to the next level. So far, I'm happy with what I've seen," said Gilroy.
Wexford are experimenting too but since they don't have the same depth of talent as Dublin, it's proving a far more difficult exercise. They were without 18 possibles yesterday (eight with the U-21s, four with the colleges, the rest injured) but would still have expected to deliver a more structured effort.
"We believe that the lads we had out there are good enough to play for Wexford. We're missing several players but we would still expect to be very competitive but we weren't today. Everyone in the camp, including the management, has to take responsibility and turn things around," said Ryan.
Ryan must plan without Matty Forde, who has announced his retirement, and while it hasn't come as a surprise against a background of on-going injury problems it still marks the end of an era.
Describing Forde as a legend, Ryan said he would have loved to see him continue but has accepted his decision. Forde will be a huge loss to Wexford but they have other issues to contend with too if they are to live up to their rating as one of the favourites for promotion.
Still, Ryan insists that despite two heavy defeats, team morale will remain high. "The lads will be fine. They know what must be done over the coming weeks and they'll get on with it."
As for Dublin, the experiments will continue next Sunday when they play Offaly in the semi-final.
Scorers -- Dublin: K McManamon 1-2, G Cullen, D Kelly, B Brogan 1-1 each, T Quinn 0-4 (4f), P Lee, E O'Gara 1-0 each, K Bonner 0-1. Wexford: D Waters 1-0, R Barry, B Brosnan (2f) 0-2 each, S O'Neill, P Byrne, B Malone, S McLoughlin 0-1 each.
Dublin -- S Cluxton; A Hubbard, D Daly, S Murray; C McKiernan, P Casey, D Lally; C Murphy, D Bastick; D Kelly, K Bonner, P Lee; K McManamon, G Cullen, T Quinn. Subs: D Nelson for McKiernan (45), A Darcy for Kelly (48), B Brogan for Quinn (50), B Cahill for Bastick (50), E O'Gara for McManamon (65).
Wexford -- T Hughes; Niall Murphy (Bannow-Ballymitty), G Molloy, J Wadding; J Flynn-O'Connor, D Murphy, A Doyle; D Waters, B Malone; S O'Neill, B Brosnan, K Gore; P Byrne, R Barry, J Holmes. Subs: A Flynn for Doyle (h/t), Niall Murphy (Horsewood) for Wadding (45), S McLoughlin for Byrne (55), C Morris for Gore (55), R Tierney for O'Neill (64).
Ref -- E Kinsella (Laois)