The Rebels have conceded 97 points in two preseason trials but coach Dave Wessels is keeping things in perspective.
Melbourne went down 47-5 to the Waratahs in their final trial on Thursday night after losing to the Brumbies 50-19 a fortnight ago.
Wessels was optimistic, though, after the Waratahs match, having rotated out many of his top-line stars in the back half of the game when the hosts piled on six unanswered tries.
“I thought we were the better team for 40, 50 minutes of that game,” he said.
“We put a team together in five weeks and we came here and we did some really simple things and we did it with massive intensity.
“We didn't have a lot of the ball in that half, we defended, we should've been leading at half-time, had it not been for a jammy try that Michael Hooper scored.”
The Rebels were abrasive at Brookvale, particularly early on, targeting NSW flyhalf Bernard Foley and slowing the play down, something Wessels said was a good foundation for the side.
“ We felt we controlled the tempo of the game without having a lot oof ball, which is - your attack takes time to develop but your set piece and defence, if you can do that from day one, you can win games,” he said.
“It’s probably something I learned out of Jake (White) when he was at the Brumbies.
They didn't play a lot of rugby at certain parts of the game but they were able to win games by being good at certain things.
“That was our goal at the start of the game and if you were in our sheds at half-time, we were very happy with how things were going.”
Melbourne look likely to welcome back a host of big names for their round one clash with the Reds, with Will Genia (back), Billy Meakes (foot), Geoff Parling, Ben Daley and Sam Jeffries all likely to be fit for the opener.
Marika Koroibete is the only major name in doubt for next week, still managing a knee injury.
The Rebels take on the Reds on Friday February 23, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Buy tickets here.