It might have taken seven games but Knights coach Nathan Brown is convinced his players now know what it takes to be consistently competitive in the NRL this season.
Now they have to show him, and their supporters, that their actions speak louder than his words.
Brown hopes the effort and energy they produced to beat Parramatta 28-14 at McDonald Jones Stadium last Sunday, which ended a five-game losing streak, proves to be their minimum standard.
But they need to demonstrate that by playing with the same urgency and intent against the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
"The reality is, to be a good, professional team, you’ve got to be motivated to do well every week," Brown told a media conference after training in Newcastle on Thursday.
"No team, no matter how good they are or how talented they are, is at their peak every week. But we certainly need to be somewhere near our competitive best consistently for a fair number of weeks before we have an off period.
"That's the difference between the good sides getting that competing bit right, and the gap between the not so good and the good being much closer together.
Warriors v Knights - Round 8
"If we can learn that about ourselves and understand what's working for us, and we can get that consistency, we feel that it doesn't matter who we play, we'll certainly be able to give ourselves a chance in the back part of the game."
The Knights were castigated, externally and from within, after their insipid 38-14 loss to Gold Coast at Robina in round six.
They started slowly and trailed Manly 18-0 after as many minutes on their way to a 26-18 defeat eight days earlier, taking much of the gloss off the positive signs they showed in their previous three losses to the Dragons, Raiders and Panthers by a total of 10 points.
After the character and commitment they showed against the Eels last Sunday, Brown does not fear a letdown against the Warriors, if they are picking up what he is putting down.
"Our first month of footy, whilst we only won one, there was only 10 points between the three losses, so that suggests they're a good bunch of guys and they want to do well," he said.
"Why we got what we got against Manly for the first 20 minutes, and against Gold Coast, I can’t sit here and give anyone 100 per cent reason. We are dealing with human beings … and we don't know how people are going to react at different stages.
Brown: It's hard to win
"But what we do know is what works for us, and I’m pretty confident that from the start of the year, to the next part – a little bit of Manly and a lot of Gold Coast – to Parramatta, I’m pretty clear the group knows what works.
"… you do rely on your leadership group, or your senior players, to get that attitude right consistently, and hope everyone else follows along."
Sitting 11th, the Knights are one of seven teams to have won just two of their first seven games, which Brown said demonstrated how close the competition was.
If Newcastle are to emerge from the pack to mount a challenge to the pace-setters, it will become apparent in the next month when they play the Warriors in Auckland, Bulldogs in Brisbane and Dragons in Mudgee before returning home to play the Roosters on May 24.
"With a lot of new players, starting the year we were probably not quite sure what type of team we are, I suppose," Brown said.
"But after seven games now, seeing what works and what doesn’t work, I’m pretty confident the guys understand what type of team we are."
Pearce: I took losses personally
Brown indicated utility Kurt Mann, named on an extended bench on Tuesday, was a good chance of being included in the final 17 if he completes their last training session in Auckland on Saturday.
Mann has missed the past three games because of a sternum injury.
Centre Jesse Ramien (shoulder) needs to prove his fitness at training on Saturday but if he is ruled out, Mann or Sione Mata’utia are the leading candidates to replace him.