The worm is going to turn for the Warriors. The question is: which way?
Precariously poised at ninth heading into this weekend's truncated round, the Warriors are a couple of wins away from getting right back in the finals hunt, and a couple of losses away from irrelevance.
Their next three matches - all against Queensland clubs - will provide a significant pointer to which way the club's fortunes will swing. Tomorrow's home match against a Cowboys side decimated by Origin commitments is the first of three increasingly demanding hurdles.
If the Warriors clear it - and they should - they then face back-to-back trips to the sunshine state to meet the improved Titans and a Brisbane club that will be firmly in rebuild mode after the arduous Origin period.
Both the Titans and Broncos have already been dispatched at Mt Smart this season. Whether the Warriors can repeat the dose across the Tasman to inject some life into their 2012 campaign will depend greatly on how well their sublimely talented but painfully youthful backline stands up to the increasing pressure.
With Manu Vatuvei joining fellow old hand Jerome Ropati in the sick bay, the team's back division hasn't a single player with more than 100 games of NRL experience, when most players enter their prime.
The Warriors don't even boast a back who has played 70 matches. Five-eighth James Maloney is the most experienced with 69 NRL caps. At 26, he's also the oldest. After that come Kevin Locke (23, 60 caps) and Bill Tupou (21, 60 caps). Centres Ben Henry and Konrad Hurrell are 20-year-old rookies, while Shaun Johnson and Glen Fisiiahi are 21-year-olds just a year further removed from the junior ranks.
"It's a very youthful backline but it's also very exciting," coach Brian McClennan said. "You'd like to think as years go by they'll get better and better but for us right now, they have to play with old heads on their shoulders, play with a lot of maturity."
There's nothing new about the Warriors' scuffling at this point of the season. Often enough, the club has compiled a strong late-season run to climb into finals consideration, however the threat of failure has typically hovered until the final few weeks.
Captain Simon Mannering has been through it plenty of times before. Most of his young charges haven't, but he's confident the youth brigade can stand up to the pressures of a teetering NRL campaign.
"We've got a lot of faith in them doing the job."
The proliferation of young players in the top grade is a trend that's here to stay, Mannering says. "The guys seem to be younger and younger and there are more of them in a team."
Not only are there more of them, the players coming through are better, and better-equipped to thrive in the NRL.
"I remember coming through at that age and I wasn't anywhere near where these guys are. They are definitely some pretty special talents."
As the granddad of the backline, despite being in just his third full NRL campaign, plenty of responsibility rests on Maloney's shoulders.
"It's my job to make make sure the boys are getting around the park and taking the right options, so I suppose there's a bit of leadership [needed] there," Maloney said.
Young it may be, but there's no doubting the potency of the Warriors' backline.
"It's nice to look out at blokes like Konrad on my edge and know all you pretty much have to do is get him one-on-one with a bit of space and he's a chance of doing something. We've got a lot of blokes that can do a lot across the board."
Being effective with the ball in hand hasn't been a problem this season. Stopping the opposition and holding out at key times certainly has. At times the Warriors have looked like a Toyota Cup team on defence.
"You've got to take the good with the bad and that's going to happen," Maloney said. "Blokes learning the game don't realise that if you clock off for one play, it can hurt us. But I don't think that's just the young blokes, we've all been guilty of [that]."
Frustration is the word that comes up most often when you speak to a Warrior about their results so far. They are, however, far from forlorn.
"There's still a drive to get to the playoffs and it's still realistic," Mannering said. "There's a belief we can still do something this season. You feel you've missed a few opportunities, but we can't be looking back.
"You don't want to come to the end of the season and be using that as an excuse - we should have got that one and this one. It's what we do from here on in that counts."
Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Glen Fisiiahi, James Maloney,
Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Lewis Brown,
S. Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor.
Jacob Lillyman, Micheal Luck, Sione Lousi, Feleti Mateo, Steve Rapira.
Matthew Bowen.Ashley Graham, A. Winterstein, Kane Linnett, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Michael Morgan,Ray Thompson, Ashton Sims, Aaron Payne, Ricky Thorby, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall,Dallas Johnson.
Joel Riethmuller, Scott Bolton Jason Taumalolo, Cory Paterson, Mosese Pangai.