The first week of the finals is typically tough to predict.
Eight teams enter the post-season in contrasting positions.
Some, like the Sharks, are just happy to be there. Others are riding a wave of momentum and clearly dangerous.
Teams like the Roosters limp in, hopeful they can keep their title dream alive.
Finally, some appear to be carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Ten years ago it was the St George Illawarra Dragons who fell into that last category.
Of course they carried the standard pressure most minor premiers experience.
The best team for 26 rounds, the expectation is to continue that run for another four weeks and lift the trophy on grand final night.
But there was more to it for this side. Much more to it.
There was the 31-year title drought. There was the joint venture's tortured history. 1999. 2005. 2006.
And then there was 2009.
Minor premiers in Wayne Bennett's first year in charge, the Dragons went out the back door in straight sets.
A loss to a red-hot Parramatta side, a team that had scraped into the finals in eighth place, consigned St George Illawarra to a trip to Brisbane. There, the Dragons premiership dream came to a shuddering halt in a 24-10 loss.
So on rolled 2010 and with Manly looming in the first week of the finals, the Dragons could feel the pressure.
"There were nerves going into that game," Jason Nightingale said. "We were such hot favourites and Manly were such big underdogs.
"When it was one versus eight, you knew you were expected to win.
"That Manly game was the only game we felt the pressure. Everything had gone our way and people were waiting for something to not go our way."
This time the Dragons had learnt the lessons of the previous year. Add in the fact the Sea Eagles had limped into the finals and Bennett had his team primed for a dominant performance.
Such a showing ensued, a 28-0 demolition proving this St George Illawarra side was different.
"It was really good to dispel the demons of the Jarryd Hayne demolition the year before," Nightingale said.
"We didn't talk about the pressure, but we could all feel it. We won that game and we were able to relax. We had the week off, we could forget about footy, have a couple of days away."
The atmosphere at Kogarah Oval on that Sunday afternoon was like few others.
So often Dragons fans can be filled with nerves and dread.
Given the club's tortured history, many supporters spend their time waiting for the devastating loss that is seemingly always around the corner.
But on this occasion, it was different. As St George Illawarra continued to pile on the points, the mood was jubilant.
Such were the scenes following the match, fans in one section of the ground spilled on to the field after the fence gave way.
This year, they could tell, was different. And the players knew it too.
"We were a much better side in 2010," Nightingale said. "We had the right players getting better at the right stage of their career.
"We were mostly local juniors, Wayne hadn't recruited a lot of players but the people he brought in all played a crucial role.
"As a squad, we learnt a lot of tough lessons from 2009, they were definitely part of the journey.
"We did some things differently in 2010. We ramped up our preparation a couple of weeks earlier, had a mini finals approach a few weeks out."
It was an approach that set the stage for the victory over Manly and the magical few weeks that would follow.