They lured over a star halfback. Picked up a front-row warrior on the cheap. But arguably the biggest change to St George Illawarra this season is finding a premiership edge.
The Dragons reclaimed top spot on the NRL table after edging Canterbury by two points on Monday in a game coach Paul McGregor admits they would've lost last season.
"It's something that we've worked on as a group," McGregor said.
"At different stages we certainly weren't thinking clearly enough in the second half but we were still good enough to find something, which is the most important thing in the game."
The Dragons infamously threw away a finals shot last year when, after leading the competition in April and sitting as high as third in June, lost eight of their last 12 matches to bomb out of the finals picture.
Dragons captain Gareth Widdop said this year's crop is a different team.
"We don't talk about it too often but I'd like to think the players who were there last year have learned from that and obviously (we've) added a fair few experienced players to the team," he said.
"We've got a lot of belief in what we're about. Certainly we're playing with a lot of belief and that's what got us home in the end (today)."
McGregor said the Bulldogs were always going to present a challenge despite occupying second-last spot on the ladder.
"The Dogs have lost their last seven games now by less than six points. I know everyone's kicking them but they're a team that competes very hard. They're not far away from a win," he said.
"Coming into this game, we knew they started well, our start was important and we got that right. We dropped off a little bit but we found it again when we needed to."
The Dragons' win over the Bulldogs come with matches against struggling Manly and Parramatta in the next two rounds before a stern test against Melbourne.