Where last year commenced with a bang, Cork's hopes of winning three Munster Championships in succession were dealt a severe blow against Tipperary yesterday afternoon.
Comfortably beaten by Liam Sheedy's side on their own admittedly pristine turf, John Meyler's men will have reason to be worried ahead of next weekend's trip to All-Ireland winners Limerick.
"It was a bracing performance from Cork's point of view," journalist Denis Walsh announced on Monday's OTB AM.
"With Cork teams over the years, there has always been queries about their work-rate.
"Going back a few years, when teams were playing extra defenders, Cork didn't really keep up with that either."
Beyond the result, however, Walsh believes something more intrinsic was lacking in Cork's performance.
"One thing with Cork teams that you wouldn't really query," Walsh began, "or that Cork people wouldn't like to see queried, is their touch; the players' first touch and basic handling.
"Yesterday, their first touch was just off, really poor.
"To come to the first round of the championship with so many players missing their first touch, it was alarming to see it.
"We know they have plenty of good hurlers as has been seen over the last two years, and they won two outstanding Munster Championships, but yesterday they were miles off it."
Pointing the finger at some of Cork's more seasoned performers, Walsh believes the reigning Munster champions had visible issues "all over the field."
Travelling to the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday as Limerick look to get their All-Ireland defence underway, Walsh believes the closeness of their last meeting in an All-Ireland semi-final might not carry much worth this time around.
"They were in a different place in terms of their form," Walsh noted of that semi-final defeat.
"You'd imagine there will be changes, but looking at the bench it's hard to see what players could come in and make a huge difference.
"They've problems in defence, and those problems have been knocking about for a few years."