For the past couple of seasons under Nathan Brown's watch at the Knights, improvement has been at the top of the list of priorities.
That's been the chief requirement of the coach and his side during the rebuilding process. 'Show us the team is getting better and heading in the right direction' has been the brief from club officials.
But for the man who does all the Knights' hiring and firing, that's no longer enough.
CEO Phil Gardner made that crystal clear during the week when we quizzed him about expectations in 2019 as the club prepares for its first pre-season hit-out against St George Illawarra in Wollongong today.
"We have gone beyond just looking to improve," Gardner told us.
"If we can get the playing group through relatively unscathed, we'll be very disappointed if we don't make the top eight.
"If our top squad is on the field consistently and guys like Mitchell [Pearce], Kalyn [Ponga] and big [David] Klemmer stay healthy and play most of the games, we expect to be playing finals footy.
"And I think that is a community expectation as well.
"We've brought in some good players - Klemmer, Tim Glasby, James Gavet, Jesse Ramien, Edrick Lee - there is quality there to compliment who we already had.
"Keep them fit and on the pitch, I think it's fair for the fans to expect us to be featuring in the semis."
So does Brown need to deliver a top eight finish, given a good injury run, to remain as coach?
"Definitely not," he said. "We'll look at it at the end of the season when we do our review on everyone and make a decision then.
"He will get treated the same as everyone else in the organisation based on his effort and the job he does.
"It's very hard to be judged by the efforts of others so the playing group needs to be judged on their efforts as well.
"All coaches feel pressure every year but he relishes it because he wants to be successful and that comes with the territory. That's a good thing. There is no negativity in that. Nathan understands where he sits.
"And there is no bigger supporter of him than me."
As off-seasons go, it hasn't been a particularly pleasant one for Knights winger Nathan Ross. And it seems it's not getting any better.
It's been the worst-kept secret in rugby league that Ross no longer features heavily in the club's plans despite having two seasons left on his contract worth $700,000.
At the urging of Knights officials, he has been shopped around by his management but to date, there have been no takers. All the while, we haven't heard Ross' take on his own predicament because he has been gagged by the club.
Now we hear he will miss both pre-season trials and could struggle to start the season after suffering a compound finger dislocation while trying to catch the footy at training on Wednesday.
Bears for Nines
Kurri Bulldogs will no doubt be hoping to defend the title they won last year and pocket the $5000 first place prizemoney when they host the Kurri Nines today at the Sportsground.
But they won't be the sentimental favourites despite playing at home.
That tag belongs to the Mitch Day Memorial Bears, who have put a side together featuring the likes of Mark Taufua, Liam Foran and Harry Siejka to honour the memory of Mitch Day, whose brother Josh is the Bulldogs' conditioner.
Day passed away early last year after a heartbreaking battle with bowel cancer with the team keen to raise awareness of the deadly disease during the tournament.
Former Northern Blues and Country halfback Jamie O'Connor is kicking plenty of goals at an administrative level in sport.
O'Connor, who was Newcastle Rugby League general manager and then a Country Rugby League regional manager before becoming CEO of the Queensland Cup competition, was appointed CEO of Touch Football Australia earlier this month.
O'Connor replaced Steve Mitchell in the role after Mitchell was appointed CEO of the Gold Coast Titans.
Matt and Robbo headline Dureau fundraiser
Sydney Roosters premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson and Knights counterpart Nathan Brown along with former Knights star and face of Fox Sports Matty Johns will headline a function not to be missed in Newcastle in early April to raise money for cancer victim Scott Dureau.
NEX at Wests City is the venue for the fund-raiser on Friday, April 5 with tickets for a two course meal and a five hour beverage package plus entertainment on sale from Monday for $170 or $1600 for a table of 10.
Among some of the unique auction items up for grabs on the night include a long lunch for six people with Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, David Klemmer and Lachlan Fitzgibbon, a coach's box experience sitting alongside Nathan Brown, and Fox Sports behind-the-scenes experiences with Matty Johns.
Tickets will go quickly and can be purchased by emailing email@example.com or by going direct to the Men of League website on Monday.
Dureau, a former Knights halfback who played under Robinson at Catalans, has previously had surgery to remove brain tumours and is currently undergoing chemotherapy in a bid to shrink tumours on his liver.
Scorps not happy
We are hearing Macquarie officials are privately fuming that key player Andy Sumner could face a lengthy suspension after being sent off for allegedly abusing the referee during his side's NSWRL Challenge Cup loss to Wyong last weekend.
Sumner doesn't deny saying "you're clearly a Central Coast ref" for which he was sin-binned but denies swearing at the referee before he was sent off.
Macquarie only entered the competition because no other Newcastle club would but now fear they could lose Sumner for an extended period for something he is adamant was never said. The hearing is on Monday.
All Star event
The Real NRL is looking outside the square to promote their All Stars clash at No 2 Sportsground on March 30.
As well as the footy, fans will be able to enjoy a beer, wine and food festival at the ground with more than 20 vendors already booked.