Two-time Roosters premiership winner Cooper Cronk concedes there are question marks around his former side following their 52-point thrashing at the hands of South Sydney.
Cronk joined Fox Sports and Channel Nine league experts at Telstra headquarters in Sydney on Monday to help launch the NRL's "50 Days of Footy" campaign leading into the finals, NRLW season and men's and women's State of Origin fixtures.
The 36-year-old, who was a multiple grand final winner at the Storm before linking with the Roosters, was asked of his former club's premiership credentials following the record-breaking loss to their arch-rivals.
While admitting concern did exist, Cronk was willing to give his old side the benefit of any doubt.
"There's no doubt there are some question marks, not too many teams in history have responded from 60 points to win week one of finals," Cronk said.
"But collectively I think we all sit here thinking they're still chance of winning against the Panthers.
"You never knock off a champion until they prove you wrong. Having experienced what that club goes through in preparation for the finals, while it is a scar to get over, they'll be thereabouts in the finals."
Cronk highlighted the side's impeccable defensive record under Trent Robinson over the past two finals series where they've conceded just 42 points in six games.
The Panthers, who have averaged 27.6 points per game outing this season, have played without fear throughout their 15-game winning streak.
All five Alex Johnston tries against the Roosters
"It feels natural having watched them [the Panthers], it's not faked. Some of the combinations have grown on the field but they've got a lot of history together," Cronk said.
"There's no doubt momentum, skill and talent – they've got everything going for them – but finals are a different ball game. It's experience verse inexperience."
Cronk added the man who replaced him this year, Roosters halfback Kyle Flanagan, needed to go to another level to match the red-hot form of opposition halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai.
Flanagan has made a soundly return to first grade after being dropped in round 13 but is preparing to play in the first finals series of his career.
"He has to [lift], I don't think you can go through the finals without 17 players contributing to the performance," Cronk said.
"Kyle has been a very good junior throughout his junior career along with a few other guys in the Sharks team.
"I think he has worked to get back to where he needs to."