It was the strength behind their Cinderella run to last year's NRL finals but defence is slowly crippling South Sydney's 2008 campaign.
That's the opinion of their coach Jason Taylor, who this week reshuffled his line-up yet again in a bid to plug a defensive line leaking 27 points a game. It's sure to receive a thorough workout at Brookvale today against a Manly side that rediscovered its groove in running 52 points past the Warriors last Monday.
"Our performances defensively to this point haven't been good enough and we're working feverishly at the moment to get that stuff sorted out," Taylor said.
"You can't have teams come into your 20-metre zone and score tries as simply as teams are against us at the moment."
Centre Yileen Gordon and halfback Ben Rogers felt the sharp end of Taylor's axe and will find themselves playing for North Sydney in the NSW Cup this weekend - Beau Champion and Jeremy Smith are their respective replacements.
Taylor also had to find himself a new hooker; George Ndaira is coming in for Issac Luke, who will miss four matches with a broken hand.
"Changes in the team at present are based around getting our defence to improve and getting it to be something we can base our game on," Taylor said. "At the moment we're averaging 27 points against us and it's not good enough and we've got to fix that. We've got to find the right people."
One player named and likely to be there is skipper Roy Asotasi, despite being hospitalised following a concussion in last week's loss to Penrith.
"I just spent the night there, it was just observation making sure that everything's OK," Asotasi said last week. "I definitely feel good to play this Sunday, I would definitely like to be playing."
Manly coach Des Hasler has named utility Luke Williamson in the No 6 jumper, but there is little doubt Steve Menzies will again play at five-eighth following the success of his move there against the Warriors. The Sea Eagles not only seemed to have more options with Menzies at five-eighth, but Jamie Lyon also relished the extra freedom out wide.