Knights winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall says Sunday's loss to Cronulla was a huge reality check that showed where the club was at before their final home game this Saturday.
Just a week after recording what the club described as their best performance of the season to defeat the Penrith Panthers, Newcastle were comprehensively beaten 38-12 by the Sharks.
"It was pretty disappointing," Kenny-Dowall said.
"We wanted to go there and be competitive, but it was a bit of a blow-out in the end.
"But Cronulla are in the finals, and we're not - I think that game reflected where we were at.
"I think (we just wanted to) try be consistent - that has been our struggle all year putting back to back performances together, and the Sharks are a quality team and just played better than us."
Prop Daniel Saifiti said the Novocastrians could not use the fact they were out of the finals race as justification, saying the players had high belief despite missing the likes of Kalyn Ponga to injury.
"It's not an excuse for us, I thought last week against the Panthers, which was a really good sign, we turned up then," Saifiti said.
"We expected to do the same thing against the Sharks, but it did not go to plan.
"We spoke about our last three games were playing top-eight teams and we were hoping to get a couple of scalps - we did against Panthers."
The task does not get any easier this week with the Knights to face a desperate St George Illawarra side in the final round of the season.
The Dragons have struggled in recent weeks, with their two losses over the past three rounds being heavy defeats to Parramatta and the Bulldogs - both teams sitting well below them on the ladder.
Saifiti knows Newcastle cannot take the Red V lightly, but said the team would be boosted by the presence of club legends on Saturday afternoon.
"It's Old Boys' Day this week, and we always stand up for that," Saifiti said.
"I have been a part of it the past two years and it has been crazy. The old boys, we are known for having the best in the comp, they really paved the way for us.
"So we are really going to turn up, it's our last round and Old Boys' Day, and we've got nothing to lose and we are hopefully going to turn up."