Cowboys skipper Matt Scott says the Melbourne Storm gave his side a lesson in "big-game football" in Saturday's 15-14 loss at Suncorp Stadium.
Of recent weeks North Queensland have been winning comfortably; getting what they want, when they want in attack.
But that all changed against Melbourne's 'purple wall', which locked up the league's most fluid attack like no team has been able to this season.
The Cowboys average the most passes of any team in the NRL, but that slick movement was lost almost completely as the Storm stepped up the aggression to leave North Queensland 20 points shy of their average over the previous five weeks.
Scott said his group succumbed to frustration following missed chances and failed to deal with the pressure they created for themselves.
"I think they frustrated us a little bit, and we did learn a little bit about playing 'big game football'," he said on Tuesday.
"[Melbourne] are very good at it, they have guys who have been doing it for a long time. We probably got a little bit frustrated and went out of our patterns a little bit, and didn't execute as well as we should have."
Like last week, the Cowboys will be devoid of their usual attacking chances when they face an in-form Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium this Friday.
While co-captain Johnathan Thurston relishes the quick turnaround as a chance to atone for last Saturday's shortcomings, he was also critical of his men; saying that they should have already learned from playing in similar situations earlier this season.
"We just need to be a bit more composed, and sticking to our sets. There were a couple of opportunities that we let slip," he said.
"I thought we would have learned from it when we played the Broncos at Suncorp, but we let that one slip again against the Storm. Time will tell Friday night."
Meanwhile, Ray Thompson made a successful return to action over the weekend, logging 70 minutes for the Townsville Blackhawks in their 34-16 win over the CQ Capras.
"I would rather give more game time to Ray at this stage, given he's just played the one game. So he will feature probably the week after, once our Origin boys are off to play for Queensland, so I think for him it's probably best to give him another game back there."
The Cowboys have again named an unchanged line-up for this week.