Latrell Mitchell took 55 seconds to make an impact for his new club but was otherwise kept in cotton wool as South Sydney retained the Charity Shield for an eighth straight year with a 26-12 victory over St George Illawarra in Mudgee.
Mitchell linked with Cody Walker on the left edge in the opening minute to send Campbell Graham over the line but the high-prized recruit was otherwise well contained before sitting on the sidelines for the second half.
Mitchell's first appearance for his new club was two months in the making after his off-season move from the Roosters attracted mass attention over the summer.
His 40-minute cameo included six carries and four tackle busts until his solid opening stint was brought undone by an error under the high ball before half-time.
The Bunnies proved too strong in the second period despite coach Wayne Bennett pulling their star-studded spine from the field after 40 minutes.
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor wasn't as cautious with most of his men getting through big minutes ahead of their season opener against Wests Tigers on March 15.
Match: Rabbitohs v Dragons
Round 3 -
Venue: Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee
A second-half burst from South Sydney turned a 12-4 half-time deficit around within nine minutes after the Dragons skipped in front early.
Jayden Su'A's quest to lock in a starting back-row spot in round one hit a hurdle with the Rabbitohs forward suffering a head knock in the opening stages.
The Dragons hit the board in the 11th minute when Dane Gagai fumbled a cross-field kick for Tyson Frizell to pounce and send Paul Vaughan over the line.
A pair of captain's challenges from each side within a minute of each other proved the new option would take time for teams to adjust to.
Dragons co-captain Ben Hunt successfully argued Mitchell's hand brushed a high kick but the Rabbitohs through newly appointed skipper Adam Reynolds lost their challenge when sending a knock-on call to the Bunker.
New Dragons recruit Tyrell Fuimaono crashed over the line when he linked with former Rabbitoh Billy Brittain from close range in the ensuing set.
Dragons fullback Zac Lomax produced a mixed bag in his second game at fullback, failing to field a mid-field bomb before kicking a ball too long at the restart in a 65-minute performance.
Patrick Mago, Bayley Sironen and Keaon Koloamatangi forced their way over the line with ease inside the Dragons' 20-metre zone in a worry for McGregor ahead of round one.
Forgotten man Alex Johnston reminded the Rabbitohs of his ability late in the clash when he linked with James Roberts on the right edge before reverting to fullback to finish the game.
The Rabbitohs have now held the Shield since 2013, chalking up seven wins and a draw since the Red V last tasted success in 2012.
Mago plants it down