Christchurch-born forward Jazz Tevaga's face bore the pain of his deep disappointment after the Warriors failed to deliver the footy fillip Canterbury craved at the city's first major sporting event since the mosque shootings.
"It's very disappointing," he admitted as he took stock in a sombre dressing room after the Warriors' 46-12 trouncing from the Sea Eagles on Saturday night.
"The intention was to come home and put a smile on some faces, but obviously, it didn't go to plan".
Tevaga - who spent the entire second half at hooker for a hamstrung Issac Luke - was "scraping for tickets" for 17 family members among the 11,774 fans in the Christchurch stands.
The 23-year-old left Christchurch as a nipper but found the Christchurch terror attack so disturbing he couldn't enter the Hasjid Al Noor mosque on Friday after the Warriors
"Going to the mosque was pretty heavy," he said. "They invited us inside, most of the team went in, but I couldn't, it was too heavy. I watched the video and I felt I would be reliving those moments.
"The Muslim brothers that invited us in were very peaceful and caring. It just shows how strong their faith is, how peaceful they are after the tragedy."
Tevaga said the emotion of the shootings was no excuse for the Warriors' tepid display.
"When it happened in Round One, look how we played [against the Bulldogs].
"This is a .... tough game, and if you're going to take your foot off the pedal, they're going to hand it to you, like they did tonight."
This wasn't how the script was meant to go. Nor was it the result the redoubtable Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - the Warriors' best performer - deserved.
The two teams also clustered in a circle on the halfway line before kickoff on Saturday for a moment's silence.
Unfortunately, that proved as close as some Warriors defenders got to their opposites.
Manly coach Des Hasler said later that both teams had done "an outstanding job for this community", in representing the NRL in Christchurch.
"Who know, the expansion might be a NRL team in Christchurch," he said, in a throwaway line.
It had all looked so promising when Tuivasa-Sheck tore up the pitch with a coruscating carry in the first minute.
In a city so subdued for the last, funereal fortnight, it was uplifting to hear the resounding cheer which greeted Isaiah Papali'i's early try.
But it proved a fleeting moment.
Silence descended when the Sea Eagles soared away with three successive scores.
The only highlight in that pitiful period came when Solomone Kata chased down Manly centre Brad Parker, grabbed him by the back of his shorts and flung him to the ground in a try-saving tackle. Far too, often, however, Kata and his mates had their defence cruelly exposed.
It took 35 minutes - after Issac Luke had narrowed the deficit to six points - for the crowd to launch into the time-honoured 'Warriors' chant.
Normal order resumed when Manase Fainu scored for Manly in the 37th minute.
The second half seemed doomed when the Warriors failed to score from three successive repeat tackle sets.
By the time Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans had scored his second try on the hour mark, the Christchurch punters had lost their patience.
An enraged fan rose to his feet to shout some "advice" to Kearney in the coaches' box. Another shed his Warriors jersey, slapped it against a railing and uttered an imprecation as he headed for an early exit after the terrific Tommy Turbo Trbojevic crossed the line for Manly in the 65th minute.
If the Warriors' performance was underwhelming, so was the crowd turnout.
The 11,774 attendance was the smallest NRL audience in Christchurch since the first encounter in 1996 when a neat 10,000 watched the Warriors lose to the Balmain tackles.
The Warriors - and Christchurch - missed an opportunity on Saturday night.
It's now left to the Crusaders to pack out the old Addington joint on their first home Super Rugby game next Saturday since the tragedy shook a city.