The fact the premiers haven't trained together as a full squad since the start of the Origin period was a factor in their unimpressive outing at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon, according to coach Paul Green.
While Green stressed several times he wasn't blaming it for their loss, he said he felt it was a factor in a sluggish effort that at times belied the fact most of the 17 who took the field played together in last October's grand final triumph.
While co-captain Matt Scott rightly also pointed out the bulk of the playing group has played together for some time now, the representative period looked to be taking a bit of a toll on the Cowboys.
"We certainly weren't at our best. To put it simply, our ball control wasn't good enough. They kept pressure on us through that. That was partly due to their good defence but partly our lack of composure at times as well," Green said after the 26-14 upset loss.
"I'm not using this as an excuse but as a group we probably haven't trained together as a whole squad for probably 10 or 11 weeks now.
"For different reasons guys have been in and out and away on Origin duty and all that sort of stuff and as I said that's not an excuse but your preparation is everything.
"You want good performance, it comes back to that."
He said while returning star Johnathan Thurston had trained the whole week in his comeback from a hamstring strain, other players had missed sessions and the last time the full squad trained together properly was ahead of the Broncos game in Round 11 right before the Origin period started.
"We had a full team against Cronulla [in Round 14] but again because it was coming off the back of an Origin game we didn't train the whole week together. That's just how it is," Green added.
"Hopefully from here on in we can knuckle down and get some good training under the belt as a whole squad and then I'm sure that will help performance but tonight, full credit to the Tigers. They played well, they played a very committed game and were the better team on the night."
Scott said it was "extremely frustrating" to be putting in so much effort and not getting results.
"The effort's there and at the moment we're putting in a great deal of effort for not much reward. Like 'Greeny' said we've had a bit of a staggered preparation, some guys in, some guys out but we've all been together for a couple of years now so we really should be better at that," Scott said.
"Just our execution, whether it was last plays and our kicking game or coming up with the right play at the right time or simple mistakes, completing in the 50s against anyone in this competition is not good enough.
"At the moment we're putting in a huge amount of effort with and without the ball but getting no reward."