The last time Newcastle plunged to this kind of low, skipper Mitchell Pearce turned to his running game and the Knights raced into the NRL top four.
Now, after seven losses in a row and their season on life support, Pearce admits he might need to get going again if they're any chance of just getting in the eight.
A home loss against a North Queensland side out of the finals picture and without Jason Taumalolo on Saturday would pull the plug on their campaign.
"I haven't been able to put my stamp on games much over the last month, (and) my running game's maybe part of it," Pearce told AAP.
"I played bad against Manly and I wanted to bounce back (against Parramatta).
"I thought my effort was good. But as a team, we didn't have that many opportunities with the ball. I need to be playing better as well."
Newcastle have yet to win a game since Pearce joined David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby in the State of Origin decider.
The stats paint an ugly picture: The Knights have gone from being the fourth-best defensive team before round 16, to the second-worst during their losing run.
Pearce himself has struggled to rekindle the form that many claimed would have had him in the running for the Dally M medal halfway through the season.
Before Origin III, Pearce was involved in over half the Knights' 47 tries.
After Origin III, Pearce has been involved in three of 15.
Knights coach Nathan Brown, who earlier this week said he erred in failing to rest his Origin stars after game three, said Pearce needed to narrow his focus.
"If he gets that bit right, and not worries about anybody else, he generally plays very well for us," Brown said.
"Last year he was good and then he got hurt. Then he come back and was good.
"This year for, a 10-week period, there certainly wasn't a more influential player in the comp. He just needs to really focus on getting himself right.
"When he gets that, his energy's good, plays well and helps other people play well."
Taumalolo (foot) joins suspended star Josh McGuire on the sidelines, while Jordan Kahu and Jordan McLean return from injury.
For the Knights, Tim Glasby has been rested due to concussion, with Josh King getting the nod on the bench.
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Cowboys have won the past four, and nine of the past 12, against the Knights.
* Last week was the first game the Cowboys had failed to make a line break in almost four years.
* All six of the Knights' losses at home this year have been by eight points or less.