Leicester Tigers gave a run-out to 28 players as they began their Kings of the North campaign with a 38-5 defeat to Sale Sharks on Saturday.
Tigers were tested in defence for long periods by a Sale team who followed up their victory at Newcastle Falcons in Round 1 with a second win of the pre-season competition.
Leicester, who found themselves on the back foot for large parts of the game as they experimented with combinations across the field, created a lovely second-half try for Academy wing Paolo Odogwu, his second in as many pre-season fixtures.
They gave a first pre-season appearance to summer signing Mike Williams, who was joined in the back row by Academy products Will Owen and Charlie Beckett. Tigers were captained by Seb de Chaves, who formed a second row partnership with Graham Kitchener.
George Tresidder partnered Freddie Burns at half-back while Seremaia Bai and George Catchpole teamed up at centre. And there was a welcome return to action half for England international Tom Croft as Tigers rang the changes in the second half.
Sale fielded an experienced pack, and gave a start to prop Brian Mujati in the week that he joined the club.
The hosts enjoyed a sustained period of early pressure in the Tigers 22, turning down a series of penalties to kick for the corner. But Tigers stood up to the challenge well, making their tackles and preventing the hosts from getting up a head of steam.
The developing defensive systems were given a thorough examinations as Tigers came under plenty of pressure in the opening quarter from set-piece and open play but they stood firm and limited Sale's scoring chances.
Tigers' first real attack came through quick hands that released Adam Thompstone down the left flank. He was stopped on the 22 where Sale disrupted the ball to force a handling error.
Sale centre Mark Jennings almost made the breakthrough after 23 minutes, stepping off his left foot into space. He passed to a support runner, despite appearing to have a run to the line, but Sale maintained the momentum for No8 Viliami Fihaki to cross from close range. Nick Macleod converted.
Sale were forced into a change in the front row when prop Eifion Lewis Roberts picked up an injury in a scrum and was replaced by James Flynn.
The Sharks continued to go for the corner with penalties, and they eventually got their drive working four minutes from the break for Mujati to score. Macleod landed the touchline conversion to give Sale a 14-0 lead.
Tigers looked for a response before the break with Bai and Catchpole's carries taking them up to the Sale 22, but Thacker was pinged for holding on to signal half-time.
Tigers introduced Matt Smith, Tom Croft, Greg Bateman for Bai, Owen and Thacker respectively for the start of the second half. The Sharks made wholesale changes, including the introduction of former Tigers hooker Neil Briggs.
And it was the hosts who extended their lead early in the second half with a third try, No8 Josh Beaumont crashing over from close range.
Leicester went down to 14 men seven minutes into the second half when Williams was shown a yellow card for pulling down a maul deep inside the Tigers 22.
Smith was hurt in a tackle less than 10 minutes into the half and was replaced by Paolo Odogwu, with Loamanu moving to centre. Laurence Pearce replaced Beckett and Tiziano Pasquali came on for Fraser Balmain as the Tigers coaches continued to shuffle their resources.
Sale, meanwhile, continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession and territory and made it pay with a fourth try of the afternoon, back-rower Cameron Neild breaking a tackle to score next to the posts. Joe Ford's conversion gave the hosts a 26-0 lead after 54 minutes.
A solid scrum gave Tigers an excellent attacking platform in the Sale 22. Pearce picked up and darted down the narrowside where Sam Harrison's pass was knocked forward by Sale hands with Odogwu in space. Instead, Tigers switched the attack to the left where Bell's pass evaded Thompstone and went to ground.
It signalled a period of Tigers' possession, the visitors showing plenty of patience, continuity and good handling to keep the attack alive. They eventually created space on the right where Croft and Bell freed Odogwu to score at the corner. Unconverted, it left Sale 26-5 ahead with 16 minutes remaining.
Burns was replaced by George Worth, with Bell going to fly-half before Sale extended their lead through Flynn's close-range score, which was converted by Ford.
The hosts thought they had scored again moments later when Nev Edwards swooped on loose ball at a scrum to run the length of the field but play was pulled back for offside, with Dan Braid not bound at the set-piece.
From the penalty, Tigers got their lineout drive going to threaten the Sale line, but as they seemed certain to cross they were pinged for an infringement and Sale cleared the danger.
Bell then launched a penalty high onto John O'Donnell for Croft to contest in the Sharks 22, but the Sale wing claimed possession and the mark.
Sale swept to the other end of the pitch, where full-back Mike Haley stepped off the left wing to cross at the corner for the final score of the game.