Shattered Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien has vowed to spend his summer working on what went wrong in 2020 to get the Knights back into the NRL finals next season.
The rookie coach delivered the Knights to their first finals series in seven seasons before they were spectacularly thumped 46-20 by South Sydney on Sunday.
Newcastle had to deal with an extensive injury list and individual turmoil throughout the season, but O'Brien insists there is more to come from his side.
"We've gone through a lot as a group," he said on Sunday night.
"There's been a whole lot of stuff going on, whether it's personal family stuff going on during the year and some of the big injuries that we've had.
"We've just managed to keep picking ourselves up and trying to replace guys.
"Over the summer I'll reflect on that, and think it was a tough first year."
Over the course of the season the Knights lost Jayden Brailey, Connor Watson, Andrew McCullough and Blake Green from their starting spine, putting additional pressure on halfback Mitchell Pearce.
O'Brien said he will spend the summer working on the team's attack, helped by players returning from injury and new recruit Tyson Frizell.
"There's a good mix of talent and there's some experience coming back to help Junior (Pearce) out, so it's not all bad," O'Brien said.
"We've just got a few things to work on."
The Knights started fast with two quick tries against the Rabbitohs but it all came unstuck through errors and poor defence as they conceded the next 46 points.
The result signalled the first time since July Newcastle had lost back-to-back games, and the first time this season they had been defeated after scoring first.
In the end, the inconsistency of the season became the story of their final.
Asked to sum up his first year in charge, O'Brien said it had been a rollercoaster - but that he stood in line for a long time to get on it, so he might as well enjoy the ride.
"It hasn't been bad, I love the club, I love the players and I love the job, I love what we're doing," he said.
"We just have to keep getting better over the summer.
"As I said in the dressing rooms then, 'what would you give to change the feeling that you have in your belly right now?'.
"I reckon a few of them would write a few things down and that's got to sit with us over the summer and make sure they're still burning a little bit over the preseason."