Rampant Knights: supercoach Bennett should have plenty to smile about.

Rampant Knights: supercoach Bennett should have plenty to smile about. Photo: Peter Stoop

The dust has settled after the opening round of the NRL season and we now have actual on-field action to gauge who's going to be hard to beat and who's going to be hard to watch in 2013.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of power rankings, they're based on which team would beat another based on form, injuries and roster stength, irrespective of home-ground advantage, so a first-up win doesn't mean a top-eight ranking and vice versa.

For example, the Storm are ranked No.1 because they would be favourites to defeat any other team in round 2 regardless of whether they were playing in Melbourne or away, whereas the Warriors are last because based on last Saturday's performance they'd struggle to beat time with two sticks even if they played in New Zealand against a team that had flown from Australia with stopovers in Johannesburg and Buenos Aires.

Picking up from where they left off: The Storm.

Picking up from where they left off: The Storm. Photo: Getty Images

1. Storm: No sign of a grand final hangover or travel fatigue from the World Club Championship, just pure dominance. Even though they were not quite at their methodical best while cruising to victory over the Dragons, the bad news for the rest of the NRL is Melbourne will only get better.

2. Rabbitohs: If Michael Maguire is the closest thing to Craig Bellamy, his team is the biggest challenger to the Storm's mantle as the benchmark in the NRL. Greg Inglis was near unstoppable against the Roosters - if he maintains that form, Souths are in for a special season.

3. Cowboys: Mobile behemoths up front, the best playmaker in the game and speed out wide, North Queensland will be top-four certainties if they continue to reproduce the road form they displayed against the Dogs on Saturday night. They are genuine premiership contenders.

4. Sea Eagles: The NRL's salary cap-contrived post-premiership roster depletion has taken effect over the last 18 months but Manly proved in Brisbane on Friday night that their veteran squad will still be difficult to outmuscle.

5. Sharks: It's hard to get an accurate gauge on this mob because off-field dramas are changing by the day. They grinded away against the Titans and their new recruits fitted in seamlessly but to say the future looks uncertain is something of an understatement.

6. Bulldogs: Des Hasler is missing more than just Ben Barba and it showed against the Cowboys. If they don't fire up for Parramatta on Thursday night, the dogs will be barking about Canterbury's credentials in 2013.

7. Knights: With Kurt Gidley back on board and the pack reinforced with the kind of steel not seen in Newcastle since BHP left town, supercoach Bennett should have plenty to smile about. Although spotting that grin won't be easy even if they dish out more hidings like the one inflicted on the Tigers.

8. Broncos: Has supercoach Griffin pulled the wrong rein with his Broncos (that's known as a pun, for those Australian Test cricketers still behind on their homework who might be wondering) by bringing in veteran Scott Prince and shifting off-contract potential superstar Corey Norman to fullback?

9. Roosters: In case you missed it, the Chooks picked up a high-class back-rower who has a reputation for not always staying on the paddock. Luke O'Donnell will be a handy pick-up for supercoach Robinson and his team will get better as the other new boys settle in.

10. Eels: One win doesn't make a winter but Parra fans haven't seen many more than that over the past couple of seasons. Supercoach Stuart has Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow fit and firing but as has always been the case with those two, sustaining it will be the challenge.

11. Panthers: There's a sense of unity at Penrith with many of the 2013 squad sharing a common trait - the desire to prove their former clubs wrong after being told they were surplus to requirements. Rolling the Raiders was a promising start.

12. Raiders: Yet again, a combination of injuries and off-field drama is hampering Josh Dugan and until Terry Campese (remember him?) can get back on the field, the Green Machine's fortunes will rise and fall on the output of their erratic star fullback.

13. Dragons: Nobody can question their attitude or application but their ability to score is still doubtful. Friday's showdown with the Broncos in Wollongong will show whether round one was a sign that Melbourne's defence was too strong or St George Illawarra are again limited in attack again this year.

14. Titans: Cronulla were ripe for the picking but apart from two tries via bombs, Gold Coast rarely looked like besting their besieged opponents. The camera adds a few kilos and that hideous white away strip was not flattering but Dave Taylor and Jamal Idris simply look overweight.

15. Tigers: Supercoach Potter is renowned for being a hard task master, it's going to take time to master the task of putting some oomph in this side's defence if Monday night's mess is a sign of what to expect from the joint venture club this year.

16. Warriors: Copping a flogging at the hands of the team tipped to run last is not the best way to make a good first impression for supercoach Elliott. He will get the benefit of the doubt early on but the talent on the roster means long-term expectations are high.