So much for all that Warriors' early season optimism.
Two weeks ago it looked like this campaign could be a bit different, to most that we have seen over the last decade.
After gritty efforts in the first three rounds, there was genuine hope that this team could evolve into something noteworthy.
A side that could make the finals, or at least give it a bloody good shake, setting up a platform for 2022.
Now it's hard to be sure, but the path to the playoffs has got steeper.
The inexplicable 13-12 loss to Manly cut deep – the kind of result that can turn a season.
It also presented a historical handicap; as Kiwi league historian Will Evans points out, only twice before have the Warriors made the finals after a 2-3 start to the season.
The lingering pessimism is partly due to the loss of Addin Fonua-Blake. The team has to move on, and will try to find a way, but the marquee prop feels irreplaceable. No one else can do what he does, and so much of their play was built around his inroads through the middle of the field.
A best-case scenario of a 16-week recovery is a crippling blow, accentuated by the absence of senior centre Euan Aitken and halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita until the second half of the season.
But equally as concerning was the manner of last Friday's performance against the Sea Eagles.
The biggest issue wasn't their attacking execution, even though that was rightly labelled "horrible" by coach Nathan Brown.
Nor was it their late fade, as the Sea Eagles found another gear in the final 15 minutes while the Warriors fell away.
The biggest issue was that the game exposed a soft underbelly, something that was meant to be a thing of the past, after the resilience and resolve displayed for most of 2020.
With the game on the line in the second half, no one really stood up, aside from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Tohu Harris. Everyone was looking for someone else to find a way, instead of individuals wanting to stamp their mark.
Long time Warriors watchers would have felt uncomfortable from the beginning of the game, as the team looked flat. The short turnaround after the brutally physical Roosters' clash didn't help, but the Warriors have often struggled with expectation, especially when heavy favourites.
That gave Manly a foothold in the match, and from there they simply wanted it more. The Sea Eagles didn't play that well, with 16 errors, but they kept coming.
Even though the last second field goal was streaky, they were deserved winners, with many more try scoring opportunities.
It's still hard to believe, given Manly were in such a hole, and now they will be much tougher opponents at Brookvale in four weeks.
Brown's offensive approach will also come under the microscope.
The coach has eschewed a simple early season game plan, as combinations learn and grow. But the lack of attacking variation in the opposition quarter is perplexing. There's no sense of methodically prising open the defensive line and the fifth tackle plays have been mostly below par.
The Warriors aren't the kind of team that can grind out results, so need to add much more to their playbook, which isn't easy to do mid-season, and with vital personnel missing.
History shows that the Warriors will need to have a near 50 per cent win record after 10 games to be late season contenders, but their draw suddenly looks ominously tough.
They face St George this Sunday, who are coming off four straight wins and look the best Dragons outfit in years. That's followed by a trip to Melbourne to face a Storm team that have ironed out easy season kinks, then the Cowboys, Sea Eagles and Eels.