Success looks unlikely to come easy for Newcastle, with new coach Adam O'Brien putting his players through a gruelling time-trial not once but twice on the first day of pre-season.
Feeding into the day one nerves of his playing group, O'Brien sprung the unexpected second test as a barometer for their ability to cope with the unknown.
The Knights finished 11th last season, missing the finals for the sixth season in a row, and he has vowed to make the team as uncomfortable as possible over the first six weeks to rectify it.
A former assistant under both Trent Robinson at the Sydney Roosters and Craig Bellamy in Melbourne, O'Brien knows better than anyone what it will take to bring success to the Hunter.
"I don't know whether they think I'm Craig Bellamy or what but they're a little bit concerned so I'm probably playing on that," he said.
"Not letting them know what's in front of them and then seeing them respond to it is the big thing in terms of body language and all of that."
After Canberra made the grand final at the end of the season, the Knights now have the longest grand final drought in the NRL.
Their last appearance in a decider was their 2001 premiership win over Parramatta, while the last time they played finals football was under former coach Wayne Bennett in 2013.
Rectifying that is a huge task for O'Brien, who wants to at least replicate the successful culture of the Roosters and Storm.
"I wouldn't say there's big improvements (to be made) but it's an area that I want to match or if not better," he said.
"Those two cultures are exceptional. The Storm, it's probably why it took me 12 years to leave them. They have a really, really strong culture.
"The cultures aren't different, the philosophy about how you go about winning games is different to the Roosters but the one thing both clubs have is good people who are thirsty for success and have the work ethic to go and attain it.
"Not just the players, the coaching staff need to be that and the administration staff need to be thirsty for success and go and get it."
Australian Associated Press