But thanks to the brilliant performance of the ground's drainage system, and a half-hour delay that was ordered so water could be cleared from the Dogs' rooms, the game went off without a hitch.Click here to watch the full match replay
And although Brendan McCartney's men prevailed by 11 points, 0.10.7 (67) to 1.7.5 (56), both sides gave their fans reason for hope.
The Bulldogs were without Ryan Griffen, Jordan Roughead, Liam Jones, Bob Murphy, Shaun Higgins, Clay Smith, Jarrad Grant and Daniel Giansiracusa, yet they flew out of the blocks, showing the confidence gained from winning four of their final six games last year.
They scored the first 33 points of the contest, with star recruit Stewart Crameri in the thick of the action.
The Bulldogs struggled to recapture that form during the remainder of the game, but they were happy to scrap their way to victory.
Luke Dahlhaus did most of the damage on the scoreboard, booting three goals, including a great dribbling effort early on.
Youngsters Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae and Mitch Wallis led the way in the midfield, with valuable support coming from Koby Stevens and the evergreen Matthew Boyd.
The downside for the Dogs was a suspected cracked cheekbone suffered by half-forward Nathan Hrovat after a head-clash with teammate Stevens during the third quarter.
Simonds Stadium was hit with a huge amount of water ahead of the Dogs-Saints clash. Picture: AFL Media
In their first game under new coach Alan Richardson, the Saints fielded a very young team, with Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes, Sam Gilbert, James Gwilt, Sam Fisher, Sean Dempster, Adam Schneider and Tom Lee all watching from the sidelines.
But after looking in a world of trouble at quarter-time, they fought back admirably, holding the Dogs scoreless in the second quarter and never falling far behind from there.
Reigning best and fairest Jack Steven led the way in the midfield, with solid support coming from David Armitage and Leigh Montagna.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Western Bulldogs: Tom Liberatore is on the verge of becoming an A-grade midfielder. The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, playing every game and averaging 26 disposals. He started his 2014 campaign in the same vein, gathering 28 possessions and laying six tackles.
St Kilda: With his blond dreadlocks, rookie-listed little man Eli Templeton is a cult-hero in the making. And he won some new fans by producing a Ronaldo-like performance, soccering a great goal out of mid-air during the second quarter and another one off the ground in the third.
Western Bulldogs: Stewart Crameri started the game strongly, outmarking his opponent Josh Bruce in the opening quarter and slotting a goal. The former Bomber was far from dominant for the whole contest, but he and emerging star Jake Stringer look set to form a potent duo in attack.
St Kilda: While Templeton was the standout performer, Shane Savage was also impressive, finishing with 14 possessions. The Saints' first pick in last year's draft, Jack Billings, spend the first half as a sub and struggled to get into the game after coming on in the third quarter. Fellow draftee Luke Dunstan had a tough start to the day, copping a bump from a teammate in the warm-up and needing stitches to patch up a cut near his eye. He recovered to collect 10 disposals in the midfield. Backmen Luke Delaney and Bruce, who joined St Kilda from from North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney in last year's player exchange period, picked up Crameri and Stringer for most of the night. Both did enough to suggest they are likely to be in the team when the home and away season starts. Ruckman Billy Longer started as sub and had little impact.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.5.3 0.5.3 0.9.6 0.10.7 (67)
ST KILDA 0.1.0 1.3.4 1.6.4 1.7.5 (56)
Western Bulldogs: Nil
St Kilda: Montagna
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus 3, Hunter 2, Crameri, Tutt, Boyd, Stevens, Liberatore
St Kilda: Maister 2, Templeton 2, Steven, Dennis-Lane, Montagna
Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Macrae, Wallis, Dahlhaus, Stevens, Macrae
St Kilda: Steven, Montagna, Armitage, Templeton, Webster, Savage
Western Bulldogs: Hrovat (face)
St Kilda: Nil
Umpires: Mitchell, Talbot, Rosebury, Leppard
Official crowd: 2894 at Simonds Stadium