Life after the Big Three may have started ominously for Queensland.
But coach Kevin Walters believes the Maroons have come back from a "much worse place" to lift the trophy after NSW's 22-12 State of Origin series opening win in Melbourne.
A James Tedesco-inspired NSW appeared to come of age by drawing first blood at the MCG on Wednesday despite fielding an unprecedented 11 rookies.
It was a nightmare start to a new Maroons era without ex-skipper Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston, all of whom have retired from representative football.
But Walters says it could be worse.
Time and again Queensland have bucked the odds to bounce back and win the series.
The Maroons coach hinted Queensland were ready to do it again thanks to the confidence gained from last year's underdog heroics.
Queensland suffered a record 28-4 opening home loss in 2017, only to turn the tables and win their third straight series.
"This time last year we were in much worse place from a Queensland point of view," Walters said.
"We got ourselves belted comprehensively and we managed to address that and fix it up, and we will address this.
"There is not a real lot wrong with how we played. We came up against a very good side.
"Hats off to NSW but we didn't play smart enough to get the victory."
Overall the Maroons were without a total of 180 Origin games' worth of experience after retirement's veteran fullback Billy Slater's shock withdrawal and the snubbing veterans Matt Scott and Darius Boyd.
The Maroons are hopeful 29-Origin Maroon Slater will be fit for game two on June 24 in Sydney despite fill-in fullback Michael Morgan's impressive display on Wednesday. Scott and Boyd will also be monitored.
New skipper Greg Inglis did his best to inspire the Maroons, laying on some crunching hits and damaging runs but it was all to no avail.
"We are not sure if Bill will be available for game two but I thought Morgs was great but the other guy (Tedesco) was pretty special - he was probably the difference," Walters said.
"If we had 17 Greg Inglises we would have won that game."
Fullback Tedesco lived up to pre-match warnings about the new look Blues' backline firepower, scoring a try and setting up another two while running 221m with 12 tackle busts.
It was a dream start for new NSW coach Brad Fittler but he wasn't getting ahead of himself.
"I don't think we'll have a chance to play a team so underdone as that again," Fittler said.
"I think if they weren't as underdone ... I don't think we would've held them out."
Meanwhile, Queensland centre Will Chambers faces a one match ban after being hit with a dangerous contact charge for a second half incident in which he appeared to raise his knee when tackled by Blues hooker Damien Cook.