Rugby Correspondent Brian Dick reflects on a season of progress at Sixways...
In entertainment terms, Worcester's 2005-6 season was never intended to match its predecessor. No one at Sixways wanted a repeat of the gut-wrenching drama witnessed during last April's final day relegation showdown.
Instead, the latest campaign was always going to be about steady progress. Well-founded, deep-rooted evolution, both in terms of playing style and league position.
A sizzling start gave rise to notions of Heineken Cup qualification and even a place in the end of season play-offs but, for director of rugby John Brain and his men, it was all about hitting rather more measured targets.
The desired total of 50 Premiership points was narrowly missed, but their final tally of 47 represented a year-on-year improvement, as did their league finish of eighth - one place better than last spring.
Their failure to better the nine wins garnered in 2004-5 will rankle somewhat but the end-of-season slump which saw them lose ten of their last 13 matches is a statistic that must be viewed with suspicion.
Over the course of the season, Worcester finished where they did because they were the eighth-best side in the division. End of story.
They started December in fourth position but, in truth, were never a team capable of still being there in May. Anyone wishing to criticise play-ers or coaches for failing to produce a more tangible sign of development should consider the circumstances in which Worcester were forced to operate.
Not only were they trying to embed a new head coach, after Anthony Eddy replaced Andy Keast, they also strained under a debilitating injury situation that bit deeper than a hungry rottweiler.
Warriors' have two credible home internationals, Pat Sanderson and Chris Horsman, but they were forced to do without both for most of the season.
Horsman injured his ankle in the first few weeks and, having played for Wales when he might have rested, put himself out of the rest of the campaign.
The tighthead prop had been such a crucial part of his team's game in their first top-flight term, that being forced to continue without him - at such a early stage of their second - was the worst thing that could have happened.
Sanderson's absence was nearly as critical. A strong opening saw him selected to represent England in the autumn internationals when an even better showing, particularly against the allconquering All Blacks, made him a certainty for the Six Nations.
Worcester would have to do without their captain whatever but, unfortunately for the player, a back condition ruled him out for both club and country. He was available for just half of the league programme.
Take those two out of any side and it'll be weaker for it. Then throw in the retirement of Ben Hinshelwood, Andre van Niekerk's dodgy shoulder, Andy Gomarsall's failure to attain full fitness, Shane Drahm's knee and hamstring niggles and one is left wondering how Worcester did so well.
Fittingly, as Drahm was part of everything his team did this season, the England A fly-half is also a key component of the answer as well as the question.
Although he failed to impress with his initial contributions, the anglicised Australian became the Warriors' heartbeat. His peerless place-kicking accounted for all but 15 of the 233 league points he scored and his distribution was a class above what they had been forced to work with last season.
Add to Drahm's mastery the fact that, in the shape of Aisea Havili, Brain has finally found a cutting edge out wide and Worcester were a much more balanced side than the 2005 vintage.
The Tongan wing fully deserved his new two-year contract and his seven Premiership tries were a decent reward. Equally pleasingly, Thinus Delport looked more at home on the other sideline, having been shunted over from full-back by the arrival of Nicolas Le Roux. The reshuffle gave the back three a genuine attacking potency.
Inside Le Roux, Thomas Lombard continued to make sure he made the gain-line, despite being the recipient of some pretty slow ball, but Dale Rasmussen did not sustain the rapid advancement he made last year.
With Lombard's departure and Rasmussen's limitations, September's centre-pairing could have a totally new look.
Perhaps the emergence of Simon Whatling could provide an answer. The stocky 21-year-old became the first youth product to make the step up with any conviction.
He is a silky footballer and a cross between a pocket battleship and greased eel of a runner, the sort of youngster who should be given their head in the Premiership.
Whatling's appearance aside, the high point of the campaign had to be the devastating 38-7 destruction of London Wasps.
It was a match in which Worcester rediscovered the desperation of the previous year.
A loss would have plunged them into the scrap at the bottom and so they produced a scintillating display, scored their first league try bonus and not only overpowered the visitors - as they had done when the champions last came to Sixways - but out-manoeuvred, out-paced and out-thought them, too.
The low point? Any one of the below-par performances turned in during January, February and March, of which the complete no-show at Saracens is probably the best example.
And, of course, Drahm's lippy response to being yellow-carded in the European Challenge Cup semi-final at Gloucester. It was about the only classless thing he did all year, but it should not cloud what has been a season of real progress.