Daly Cherry-Evans admits he put too much pressure on himself to fill the void of Manly's injured stars before rediscovering some of his best form against Parramatta.
The Manly No.7 used motivation from a week of media criticism to blow the Eels away early in Saturday night's vital 22-18 NRL win.
But with Dylan Walker and Tom Trbojevic still at least a couple of weeks away from returning, the most valuable lesson for Cherry-Evans was that he should not overplay his hand in their absence.
The Sea Eagles captain had one of the roughest nights in memory against the Dragons, offering up a try from an intercept and making two simple errors in Manly's third straight loss.
But with a crucial month ahead beginning with North Queensland away on Friday, Cherry-Evans rediscovered his groove by taking some of the pressure off himself.
"Last week was the perfect example of taking too much on," Cherry-Evans said.
"That's the honest truth with where I was at. This (win over Parramatta) was a reflection of a really good week of preparation as a side.
"I pride myself on my bad games not being as bad as they were last week. As players we are kidding ourselves if we are going to play at a 9 or 10 every week.
"That was the most disappointing part about last week, I felt as though as a player I had got past those stand-out bad games.
"It was just a nice kick up the bum for where I was at and I need to do better."
Cherry-Evans also got plenty of reminders externally.
The Queensland captain is more aware than most of what's being written and said.
He heard the scathing reviews of his Kogarah performance and admits he used it.
"I love it when people give it to me," he said.
"I feel like I have played that story in my head my whole career about you're never good enough, people saying you're not good enough.
"I definitely used that as motivation.
"I'm very motivated on weekly basis regardless.
"But when I do get those weeks where I am a bit highlighted there is nothing more pleasing than responding with a good game."