'You need to get comfortable being uncomfortable'.
It's been a mantra for Dragons coach Paul McGregor ever since he stepped into the hottest coaching seat in rugby league. Good thing to, given discomfort has been a virtual default setting through his five seasons in charge - none more so than 2019.
There's little more he can say when it comes to talking about that campaign, but it won't stop the questions. Nothing will until his side re-takes to field in February with his job supposedly on the line despite having a contract that runs to the end of 2021.
The specific numbers differ, some say he must win five of his first eight, others say seven of nine. Of course strong starts have rarely been an issue through his tenure.
They went 6-2 in 2015 and 2017 and 12-3 in 2018. Should they do the same, or similar, this season it will surely see the 'May Premiers' tag revived.
That's why he's not trying to sell a vision in January - his most ardent critics aren't going to buy it and those more discerning won't be sold on anything until there are games in the bank.
In that vein, McGregor says he's more focused on doing his job than saving it.
"I've got a two-year contract and I want to improve this team on a consistent basis, not just look at a month of footy," McGregor said.
"I'm approaching it pretty clearly and just focusing on the process. If you just focus on the win-loss column and don't concentrate on the needs of your players and your team, you're not doing your job as a head coach.
"Win or lose all I want is improvement in our footy team on a weekly basis. It's no different to any other team that starts the year.
"We've made some player changes, we've made seven staff changes with an experienced coach in Shane [Flanagan] coming in, James Shepherd was with him when they won the comp in 2016 [with Cronulla].
"With that comes new attitudes and new behaviours. I think in the past we've got bogged down in what we haven't got or what's happening in and around us instead of what what we can control and what happens next.
"That's our focus. We're not looking at 2019, it's done, it's not something we can change. All our work has been around 2020 and what we need to do next."
That drive is understandable, but it's unlikely the club's fanbase will let anyone forget what happened in 2019, a campaign affected by a heavy injury toll and the Jack de Belin saga that will finally draw to a close, one way or another, next month.
McGregor hasn't entirely wiped it either, saying he's absorbed the lessons garnered from a review conducted with the help of former Origin mentor Phil Gould.
While he accepts opinions flow thick and fast in rugby league, it's those informed voices he listens to amid all the other noise that accompanies his role.
"I watched some footy with Gus and what I was reviewing I didn't like but I was the head coach so I've got take responsibility," he said.
"That's the reality of the season we had but you can't get bogged down in the past. You never forget about it but you can't concern yourself with it. The experience of it gives you better instincts for what's next.
"We've made change and change does take time but everyone who wants comment or pass judgement at the moment isn't in this arena every day with my players and my staff. That's where your focus has to be.
"Who you listen to and how you choose to process feedback determines whether you progress or regress. I understand people have their opinion, it comes with the territory, but you really need to draw on the feedback from people who can actually help us get where we want to go."
The push for clarity extends the endorsement of young-gun Zac Lomax - who recently re-signed for five years - as the club's starting fullback for round one.
The public declaration deviates from his previous policy of leaving such calls open but, with the departure of Gareth Widdop, McGregor said he wants to approach the season with some certainty around key positions.
It'll see Lomax join Corey Norman, Ben Hunt and Cam McInnes in a new-look spine, but it's not an approach carved in stone.
"The way we're playing is going to be different because Gareth's not here for the first time," McGregor said.
"There was a lot of conjecture around who was going to play where last year so there was no real role clarity. I've said Zac will get the first opportunity at fullback and then it's up to him to hold that position with pressure coming from Matt [Dufty] and Tristan [Sailor].
"All three have been highly impressive in preseason. I think Duft's conditioning has improved over the last seven weeks to a level it's never been before.
"Tristan finished the year strong and has, and always will be, a very good trainer in the gym and on the park. He's developing as a player and can play multiple positions.
"I have made it clear that this is the spine I'm going with in round one and I'm sticking with it because I think that's the opportunity Zac needs to prove himself in that position. It's also an opportunity for Duft to really fight to earn that jumper back."
That competition will extend to the club's forward pack that may or may not include de Belin, but will have some new faces in Trent Merrin and Isaac Luke.
The recruitment of both players, at 30 and 32 respectively, has raised some eyebrows but McGregor said both cut-price Internationals have arrived with a point to prove.
"The most important thing is that those two players have come here for an opportunity," McGregor said.
"Isaac Luke's come here because he's got a high respect for Cameron [McInnes] and he's willing to work under him to make him better and make the team better. Looking at what we have around that position, and where he fits in our top 30, he was by far the most valuable buy out there.
"Trent's done it at every level and he's given up a lot to come back and play for the club he has admired and has passion for. He's more mature than the person he was before he left.
"That comes with age, experience gives you better instincts. As a forward pack when we are a pack and we're healthy there's definitely competition there and you need that to be a successful footy team."