Melbourne may have charted the roadmap to keeping Tom Trbojevic quiet, but Manly's engine room plans to have him firing on all cylinders with their season on the line against the Roosters.
Trbojevic's stunted attacking brilliance against the Storm proved the biggest tactical talking point from week one of the finals, with his 20 touches of the ball a little more than half the 36 he has averaged this season.
Melbourne's complete dominance of possession was aided by nine Sea Eagles errors and another nine penalties, but even when Trbojevic was involved, it amounted to little thanks to the Storm's defensive masterclass.
The star No.1's sniping around the ruck was met with a swarming defence that turned to sliding Trbojevic toward the touchline when he attacked Melbourne's edges, doubling down on the tactics Craig Bellamy employed as well in round 21.
Roosters captain James Tedesco said his side wouldn't put too much stock in Melbourne's handling of Trbojevic because "that's how Melbourne defend so well" in any case, instead pointing to the monopoly they maintained on field position and possession.
Get Caught Up: Finals Week 1 must-see moments
Ultimately no Manly forward ran for more than 88 metres as the Storm consistently swamped their ball-runners, with Manly identifying the middle ground battle as the true key to unlocking Trbojevic in attack.
"Tom's been a product of a good team performance," captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.
"I understand that there's the big storylines around Tom saving us and Tom being the only thing that does well at Manly.
"But the reality is there's been a lot of good work that goes on before that.
"Tom will be the first person to admit that when our forward pack goes forward and our halves provide him with good opportunities, he's the best player in the game.
"Don't get me wrong, he certainly has moments where he does it on his own. But as a team we need to play better and ensure people like Tom get the benefits of it.
"The Storm are very unique and there's no one else in the competition like the Storm. If anyone else can replicate what they're doing then good luck to them."
Manly prop Sean Keppie added that Melbourne's bash up of them in middle would spur an improved performance up front, saying "it definitely does give us some motivation in the middle.
"That will be a target for us this week, to run some good metres to give us that boost."
Match Highlights: Storm v Sea Eagles
Teammates and Tedesco alike were miffed that Trbojevic could come in for any criticism given the season he has enjoyed to date.
"Everyone's saying Tommy was quiet but if you give him more than a couple of opportunities he's going to make you pay," Tedesco said.
"He probably feels like he could've done more so I'm sure he'll go out and do everything he can to prove that.
"I'm sure it means more touches for Tommy and more involvements so it's a big job for us to keep him quiet again."
By the same token, Cherry-Evans anticipates added focus on his right-edge defensive combination with Morgan Harper and Haumole Olakau'atu after both were targeted to the tune of multiple Storm tries.
Every try from finals week one
Manly coach Des Hasler has the option of shifting Dragons-bound centre Moses Suli into the starting line-up at Harper's expense, though Cherry-Evans argued the Sea Eagles' right edge has hardly been an Achilles heel previously.
"If you let in a lot of tries on your edge you're going to pop up in the next week's preview for the side that you're playing against," Cherry-Evans said.
"That's understandable but if you look at the season our right side certainly hasn't been easy pickings for tries.
"If people want to go down that path then that's fine. But throughout the season I think you'll find we certainly weren't an edge that was targeted or is an Achilles heel."
Don't Blink or you'll miss a moment of the NRL finals - tickets are on sale now at NRL Tickets