Cowboys enforcer James Tamou says Saturday's 24-18 loss was a "wake-up call" that his side needed after the most unconvincing of 11-game win streaks came to an end at the hands of the Sharks.
North Queensland played their fair share of 'get out of jail free' cards over the three perfect months which was underscored by nail-biter after nail-biter.
In almost expected fashion they found yet another way to potentially snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on Saturday, but without maestro Johnathan Thurston, failed to execute to their usual high standards at the game's end.
"Definitely a wake-up call. We're really disappointed," Tamou said after the game.
"We were [in the lead] for a majority of that [second] half and we acted like we were down and wanted to try and score points but all we had to do was build pressure.
"'Greeny' wasn't overly angry (in the debriefing). He just told us the facts about the game and that was that we didn't complete that much.
"We were trying to play too hard when we just needed to build pressure. Eleven in a row, it's been a long 11 weeks and it's definitely a wake-up call."
The Cowboys were rolling – up 18-0 in under half an hour – when complacency crept in. They did not score a single point for the remaining 52 minutes of the game.
Jason Taumalolo coughed it up twice in consecutive sets straight after winger Antonio Winterstein made it 18-0, and the mental lapses that had not shown last week in Canberra were there for all to see at 1300SMILES Stadium.
While the momentum shifted back to Cronulla late in the first half, the Cowboys did not concede points in the first 40 minutes.
Where North Queensland should have taken stock and re-grouped in the sheds after a below-par final 10 minutes of the half, they came out even worse, giving up their first try three minutes into the half.
"We spoke about an 80-minute game of footy and obviously it didn't come off. I think there was a bit of complacency there," Tamou said.
"When they scored that first try in the first five minutes of that half, I think we knew we'd better pull our heads out. But by that time it was too late, they just more of a roll on and we just looked a bit flatfooted and couldn't recover.
"I think we did everything right [in preparation] this week. We didn't change a thing. I think we just went away from what we were hoping to do and that was for our halves just to build pressure. Kick the ball instead of throwing passes that were not needed so I think that will be the biggest point to take out of that game."