AT the start of the season most of us were questioning if Manly were coming down the wrong side of the hill.
An ageing roster combined with a lack of depth and a worrying finish to last year's finals series equalled a club on the decline.
Five games into the new season and you would have to say they are still a top four team who have reinvented themselves under Geoff Toovey's coaching.
Last night they gave their old coach a reminder of what he left behind.
Only a late try to Michael Ennis denied the Sea Eagles their third shutout of the season after previously holding Newcastle and the Wests Tigers scoreless.
Yet they still have the best defence in the league, with only five tries scored against them all year.
Then you think about what they did in the first 40 minutes last night with the ball in hand.
At 31, is there a centre in the comp you would swap Jamie Lyon for?
It's just a shame for NSW he no longer wants to play State of Origin football.
Brett Stewart was also tremendous, setting up two of Manly's three first-half tries.
For one he hit Jorge Taufua with a lovely cut-out ball down the left sideline that was all class. For the other he picked up a loose pass from Anthony Watmough on his own side of halfway and blasted past three defenders on a 40m charge that eventually sent Lyon crashing over. It was classic Stewart.
BULLDOGS V MANLY
Anthony Watmough was named man of the match. Picture: Mark Evans Source: The Daily Telegraph
If Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran aren't the best halves combination in the NRL, who is? They won a premiership together in 2011 but both conceded last year they weren't performing at nearly the same level.
With Andrew Johns now on Manly's coaching staff, you can already see the subtle improvement on their tremendous talents. Cherry-Evans' kicking game to nullify Ben Barba last night was outstanding.
In the first half Barba was restricted to 19m. He finished the game with 49m.
This is the Dally M Medal winner who was untouchable last season - but last night Barba couldn't get into the game because Cherry-Evans didn't allow it.
And Anthony Watmough, what else do you say? Man of the match last night, Watmough charged for a match-high 186m.
Remember, this is the bloke who started the season with a rib injury that would require painkilling injections before every game.
Then you watch him in action last night and wonder how?
And it's not just the big names firing.
Brenton Lawrence and Justin Horo were brought in to fill holes - yet the influence of the senior players they are now surrounded by seems to have had an impact.
Then you think back to the bloke in the coach's box who was handed a time bomb at the beginning of last year after Hasler left for the Bulldogs.
They wanted us to believe this wasn't a grudge match.
Make up your own mind on that. One thing is for certain, Manly are back.