Warriors coach Stephen Kearney admits his team simply "weren't good enough" this year, with some shortcomings in key areas, but isn't feeling the pressure on his position.
In a candid wide-ranging interview, Kearney also said the Auckland team need to make adjustments to many areas of their game ahead of next season, and conceded that few players would give themselves a pass mark for 2019.
The Warriors sit in 14th position on the NRL ladder heading into the final round match against Canberra on Saturday.
There have been some positive moments, but the campaign will be remembered for a catalogue of near misses, as well as several games where the team fell to embarrassing losses, like the Manly clash in Christchurch (round three) and the thumpings at the hands of the Raiders, Roosters and Sharks in August.
The contrast with the 2018 season is stark; this time last year, the Warriors were on cloud nine, heading into their last regular-season game (also against the Raiders) with a finals place locked in and 14 wins behind them, compared with just eight victories so far this season.
Kearney was frank in his assessment of what has gone wrong.
"It's an easy line to use but I just don't reckon we were good enough," said Kearney. "It's a simple line but there are obviously layers to it. We had enough games where we had the winning and losing of the game in the balance and we weren't good enough, whether it was game management or execution."
The Warriors have had issues with and without the ball in 2019.
Only the Dragons and the Titans have conceded more points, while the Warriors' attack has been clunky and one dimensional for much of the season, and their lack of potency and invention was particularly costly in the home defeats to the Panthers, Broncos and Cowboys.
"We weren't collectively good enough, regardless of referee's decisions [or] injuries," said Kearney. "We had enough games where we were in a position where we could have got a result. But our defensive structures weren't good enough to hold up in that situation, [or] our attacking plan wasn't good enough to hold up. It's all interlinked."
Near the end of his third season at Mt Smart, Kearney knows there needs to be changes, both theoretical and practical.
"We definitely need to make some adjustments, to our game style, without a doubt," said Kearney. "We need to make adjustments so we can swing it our way in those moments.
"[Overall] we need to commit to being better. If you ask the players to give themselves a pass mark, over the course of the whole year, I don't know if there would be many that would be able to say 'I've got a tick'."
Kearney signed a new three-year deal in February and retains the faith of CEO Cameron George and the board in the medium term but improvements will need to be definite and obvious in 2020.
"I don't focus on the pressure," said Kearney. "What I focus on is that we have got gaps, in our game style, in our footy team, that we need to improve.
"I will spend my energy on trying to close that gap. There is [pressure] in high-level sport everywhere. I have an awareness of it but if I am worried about that, it stops me with my day-to-day, minute-to-minute job.
"I'm not looking back [on the season] worrying about my job or anything like that…no point."
However, Kearney conceded it had been a trying season.
"I've had my moments," he said. "[But] like the players, if you get a rough call or if things aren't going your way, what type of resilience am I showing if I am worrying about that?
"You've just got to move forward, always. I spend my days and minutes thinking about how we are going to improve, not poor old Stephen under pressure."