Gala have learnt the hard way that an all-out effort in the B&I Cup against sides who are physically bigger and professionally conditioned has its price. It was arguably their campaign in the cross-border competition last season - and the accompanying injury toll - that cost them the RBS Premiership title.
This season Gala appear to have taken a more relaxed approach, while still being anxious to compete. For Saturday's first-round match, they started without captain George Graham, his brother Gary, back-row Euan Dods, experienced lock Opeta Palepoi and stand-off Andy McLean.
The absence of McLean and Gary Graham, however, presented opportunities for Gregor Mein at stand-off and Richie Tod in the back row.
Both took their chances, Mein in particular catching the eye with an assured performance that warrants selection on a more permanent basis.
"I thought Gregor had an excellent game for such a young player," said coach George Graham. "He didn't look fazed at all in this company. He kicked well, he made a couple of breaks, his service was strong, and his game management was good.
"Richie Tod also had a good match. He was really nervous, but then he's gone from playing in the seconds to playing in the British and Irish Cup."
Gala, for much of the first period, were forced to play in their own half against an Aberavon side that dominated possession and territory. The pressure resulted in a try for Fijian Aisea Natoga and two penalties and a conversion from Sam Davies who was one of the outstanding players in last season's Junior World Championship.
Davies then again contributed with a third penalty and his conversion of a second try by Notaga left Gala trailing 3-23. The home side, having made all their three permitted substitutions, suddenly found the fire that had been missing to score tries through flanker Steve Cairns and wing Craig Robertson.
Both were converted by Mein only for a fluke bounce of the ball to give Aberavon's stand-off Paul Smithson a late try before Davies signed off Aberavon's victory with his fourth penalty goal.