RFU Championship: Worcester Warriors 38 Bristol 20
A match that two years ago would have been a Premiership fixture strangled by relegation-induced anxiety was allowed to thrive as Friday night rugby returned to Sixways to entertaining effect.
Worcester's seventh win of the season came only after they were made to work for the entire 80 minutes by a Bristol side that is clearly regaining some of its belief.
The bonus point try that should be de rigour when Warriors play at home only arrived with a few seconds remaining as Adam Balding crashed over from a 5m scrum.
Even then Bristol still had the spirit to go in search of a reply and had they not lost possession just a few steps from the home line on the final play, they might have come even closer to Richard Hill's promotion favourites.
That in itself is quite an accolade for a team that finished the match with three fly halves and a couple of academy players in their back-line and looks to have lost No. 8 Dan Montagu to a medium-term shoulder injury.
But as this season will inevitably be, this was mostly about what Worcester did and didn't do.
While this was far from a perfect performance, Hill will be gratified that there is at least a decent side struggling to get out of his large Sixways squad.
Andy Goode gave a kicking master-class, how they could have done with him last term, and when they did the simple things well they looked a cut above the game Bristolians.
Especially when their razor-sharp back three were brought into proceedings.
They first sparked into life midway through the first period when Miles Benjamin snaffled a loose ball in his own 22, used Alex Crockett in support who in turn sent the blistering Tom Arscott free.
It was only an outstanding cover tackle by Jack Tovey that presented the full back from scoring against his old side but the youngster could not stop Crockett doing just that.
The rest of the first half was left to Goode's boot to land 11 points for a 16-3 lead.
Marcel Garvey found his way on to the scoresheet twice in the second period before Balding barrelled over for his first in a Warriors shirt.
It should be noted, however, that many of the visitors' points were the product of generosity from Worcester, especially George Watkiins' 39th minute score that criminally came from first phase.
Mako Vunipola crashed over near the end but Worcester always had too much in reserve and looked like they are starting to gain some momentum.
WORCESTER: Arscott; Garvey, Crockett (Short 54), Rasmussen (Carlisle 79), Benjamin; Goode, Arr (Williams 80); Black, Lutui, Taumoepeau (Douglas 57), Kitchener, Gillies (Rawlinson 71), Best, Abbott (Balding 21), Horstmann. Replacement: Shervington
BRISTOL: Tovey; Adams, Fatialofa (Jarvis 79), Barnes, Watkins; Little, Bolt (Alford 65); Vunipola (Thompson 80), Hayes (Johnston 64), Thompson (Irish 56), Glynn (Barry 32), Winters, Grieve, Merriman, Montagu (Sambucetti 51). Replacement: Miller
Referee: Llyr Apergeraint-Roberts