Grand final retribution still months away for Eels
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur claims last year's grand-final defeat cannot be used as motivation for this season, reminding Eels players they are still seven months away from avenging the defeat.
The Eels will begin the long road back to trying to qualify for this year's decider when they face Melbourne in the season opener at CommBank Stadium.
Ravaged by injuries, both teams will start the year down on back-row troops with the Eels' back row decimated and the Storm down to 20 fit players in their squad.
Recent history is kind to the Eels as runners up.
The last five teams to lose the grand final have finished in the top eight the following year, with North Queensland the last grand-finalists not to back up for the next year's playoffs in 2018.
But as far as Arthur is concerned, last year's 28-12 loss to Penrith is irrelevant for now.
"It's not something that we've talked about, and maybe there's a few things or a few lessons we were able to get out of that week," Arthur said.
"But it's not important to us now. We've got to make sure we can get there to be able to touch on those experiences.
"We haven't talked about it. It's not extra motivation for us. Sure, it was a great experience. Hopefully it just makes us more hungrier."
Making the finals again is also not enough for Arthur.
Instead, the Eels are desperate to set up a shot at their first title in 40 years with a more consistent regular season than they've produced in the past.
"Every year we've aspired to do better than the year before. And this year we're no different," Arthur said.
"There were a couple of games last year where we came off the field and said we didn't turn up today. We don't want to have those conversations this year.
"That cost us, and could have been the difference in maybe finishing fourth or second.
"It would have been getting a bit more luxury in the finals period not having to go to Townsville (for the preliminary final)."
The Eels delivered some good news on Wednesday, with barnstorming winger Maika Sivo inking a new two-year deal for 2024 and 2025.
Arthur is also adamant the bad news of the off-season, including Shaun Lane's broken jaw and fellow backrower Ryan Matterson's three-game ban, cannot slow the Eels' start.
Melbourne have not lost a round-one match since 2001, but Thursday night does loom as their biggest challenge.
Ryan Papenhuyzen headlines their list of unavailable players, with Justin Olam, Tui Kamikamica, Tariq Sims and George Jennings also sidelined.
Bigger questions also remain around whether Melbourne's long finals run could end this year, after several exits in their forward pack.
But for coach Craig Bellamy, that is a long way off.
"We don't go in with any expectation, we just worry about this week," he said.
"When you start making expectations you're looking for trouble."