It's not like the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have tried to hide the fact that it's going to take them some time this season to get to where they want to be.
They showed last night just how much more work they have to do.
ESKIMOS 23 BLUE BOMBERS 9
The Edmonton Eskimos had an easy time with Winnipeg's defence last night and downed the Bombers 23-9 in front of 28,013 fans on a gorgeous spring evening in southern Manitoba. It was the second and final CFL exhibition game for both squads after they tied 20-20 last week in Edmonton.
Winnipeg begins its regular season next Saturday night at Regina's Taylor Field against the arch-rival Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Bombers projected starting lineup, including No. 1 quarterback Kevin Glenn, played most of the first half, but the Eskimos went to their locker-room with a 13-5 lead after 30 minutes.
In the second half, backup pivots Tee Martin, who was making his Bomber debut, Spergon Wynn and Russ Michna all played well in their short stints, but they couldn't find the end zone.
The Bombers opened the game with Glenn almost throwing an interception on their first possession and then having him serve up a pick on their second.
The Eskimos, meanwhile, moved the ball at will in the opening quarter. They jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead thanks to the short first drive (a 39-yard Sean Fleming field goal) and the turnover (a Jason Maas five-yard touchdown run).
The fans were grumbling, but you could hear what they were saying loud and clear: "Here we go again."
Glenn was 6-for-12 for 90 yards in the first half. Three of those completions were caught by Kamau Peterson for 27 yards.
The Bombers had 96 total yards in the opening half, while the Eskimos racked up 239 on a Bombers defence that seemed to have the same problems it had last year. Eskimos starting quarterback Jason Maas, who's supposed to be nursing a shoulder injury, completed nine of 11 passes for 120 yards.
Winnipeg's defence had some bright spots, however. Defensive tackle Doug Brown kicked off his year on a fine note by sacking former Bomber pivot Khari Jones in the end zone for a safety and then twirling him to the turf just before half-time for an eight-yard loss.
Brown, linebackers Willie Fells and Sean Woodson, and defensive end Antwone Young all added tackles for a loss.
Martin's first act in a Bomber uniform, which came a minute and a half into the third quarter behind the backup offensive line, was an eight-yard run. Three plays later, on second-and-10 he hooked up with second-year receiver Gilles Colon for a 10-yard reception and a first down.
Then he hit Keith Stokes with a 25-yard strike to Edmonton's 24-yard line, and the fans were pumped.
The drive stalled, however, and Troy Westwood missed a 27-yard field goal that resulted in a single.
Martin completed three of five passes for 39 yards and Spergon Wynn was good on two of six attempts for 23 yards. Michna, however, was the best of the backups, completing six of 12 throws for 64 yards, although a 15-yard touchdown toss to Vinny Sutherland was called back due to a holding penalty.
Fleming added field goals of 31 and 11 yards, Winnipeg punter Jon Ryan, who was the place-kicker in the first half, booted a 30-yard field goal, and Westwood had a 37-yarder.
Trevor Gaylor had a 27-yard touchdown reception from Jones in the third quarter.