Storm centre Will Chambers has admitted last season's preliminary final is still on the minds of some of Melbourne's players, although he's confident the new wave of Storm talent can take them one step further in 2016.
Melbourne were soundly beaten by North Queensland 32-12 in last season's preliminary final at AAMI Park, but Chambers said a new-look squad this season is hungry to make amends.
"It does [still hurt] to some extent, but we've got a new playing group and a new group of boys here and they're out to enjoy it," Chambers said.
"We've got a couple of young boys there now that get their opportunity to play the first finals series so it's exciting times ahead."
The Storm head into the clash against the Cowboys after claiming the minor premiership following an impressive 20-point win over Cronulla on Saturday night.
Almost more importantly than the win for the Storm was their performance against the Sharks after a poor showing against Brisbane the weekend prior.
Chambers said the Storm had been low on confidence following the loss to the Broncos, but the win was just what they needed ahead of what they're expecting to be a very tough finals series.
"There's a few things we got back [from the Cronulla win], we get a bit of confidence back in the group after the Broncos got into us a couple of weeks ago and the boys were a bit down and out so it was good to play a good decent game and play against quality opposition heading into a finals series," he said.
"That's what you want and we were happy with it, but we know we have to go to another gear now, it's finals footy and it's going to be a tough one."
Along with the Storm's best performance in recent weeks it was also the centre's best game since returning from injury as the 28-year-old looks to find some form heading into the finals.
Chambers missed 14 weeks of footy through the middle of the season with a broken foot and returned in Round 20, and while he was excited to get back playing he's still thinking about one man who isn't as lucky as he is.
"Injuries come and it was unfortunate when it came but at the end of the day I got back to play – and there's a guy named Billy Slater that's going to miss out on everything," he said.
"There was still room to improve but obviously it was probably the best game I've played since I've been injured, but there's a room to improve and I'll be looking to do that in the next couple of weeks."
Since making a return Chambers has formed quite a lethal partnership with new Melbourne Storm try-scoring record holder Suliasi Vunivalu.
Chambers has been impressed with how far Vunivalu has come this season, and the Fijian reminded him of another certain someone Chambers linked up with at the Storm eight years ago.
"Suli is a special kid, and he's a quality footballer. He's a very humble kid and he enjoys it, he goes about enjoying his footy week to week and he's always willing to learn and he's taking it all in his stride," Chambers said.
"It's pretty cruisy [playing alongside him], he talks and gets more confident every game. When I first played with him he was a bit quiet but he's come along well now and he's enjoying it. He's an aggressive defender as well, he goes in hard so he's going well."
"I played with Izzy (Israel Folau) in 2008, and played junior footy with him as well. Two different players, both pretty special and talented, and they both knew how to find the try line pretty well as you can see with their records."