Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett has conceded that the additional pressure associated with such a tight NRL competition in 2014 is bringing desperation out in teams much earlier than usual, and his Knights team has to follow suit.
A week after bouncing back from one of the most traumatic weeks in the Knights' proud 25-year history with a dominant 30-0 shutout of the Sharks, Newcastle came up against a Cowboys team eager to atone for three straight losses and conceded 28 unanswered points as the Cowboys ran out 28-2 victors.
With the Rabbitohs and Sharks breaking losing streaks of their own throughout Round 5, Bennett said that the pressure to stem any backwards momentum was having an influence on the performance of sides, and that his side will need to follow suit on Saturday against the Raiders.
"Teams seem to get desperate to play well and we're probably in that category," Bennett said after the Knights' fourth loss from five games.
"We had a pretty fair performance last week when we were desperate but we come here with a win behind us and the Cowboys lost two or three in a row and they played with a bit of desperation here tonight.
"I'd probably say it will sort itself out over the next three or four weeks there somewhere until we know what we've got and what we're playing. At the moment we're in our fifth and sixth game and we're playing at probably 50 or 60 per cent to be honest with you, we just haven't been able to nail it.
"Even last week against Cronulla, first half was good but second half, we stayed in defence but we didn't finish that well. Just not sure when it's going to come for us, we're just struggling to get it."
After a promising start in which Kade Snowden continually dented the Cowboys defensive line and captain Kurt Gidley posted first points through a penalty goal in the seventh minute the Knights were the architects of their own demise.
A total of 33 missed tackles and 13 errors cruelled any chance they had of mounting a comeback after the Cowboys scored three tries in the space of nine minutes, maintaining just 45 per cent of possession a killer.
"I thought we started really well, our attitude and the way we carried the ball but just the possession in the first half... Probably after 10 minutes we didn't see a lot of ball after that and probably for the rest of the game," said Gidley.
"You can put that down to concentration or whatever that might be but we didn't have a decent amount of possession and we've got to have a look at our defence."
The only good news for Knights fans to come from Monday was the transfer of Alex McKinnon from The Alfred hospital in Melbourne to a hospital in Sydney.
Despite the ongoing concern for their injured teammate, Gidley insisted that the Knights arrived in Townsville ready to play.
"I found it harder last week to get up for the game, this week it felt back to footy, he said. "Obviously still having Alex in our minds but I felt a lot better going into the game this week than last week, so that's not an excuse."