THE numbers speak for themselves - 21,813, 19,451, 19,105 and 21,779 - the crowd figures for the Newcastle Knights' first four home games of the 2019 NRL season.
It's a reminder that Knights fans are without doubt the most loyal, parochial and tribal supporters in the game.
Newcastle's average turnout at McDonald Jones Stadium this year of 20,537 is the second-best in the NRL, behind only Brisbane (30,167).
And when you consider the population of Brisbane (more than two million), and compare it to Newcastle (in the vicinity of 450,000), it just goes to show that, on a per capita basis, nobody loves their rugby league flagship with greater passion than the Novocastrian faithful.
The synergy between the team and the town is even more remarkable when you consider how long it has been since the Knights had anything resembling a successful season.
Their last finals campaign was under Wayne Bennett is 2013, and while they survived two sudden-death showdowns, it should be noted that they finished seventh on the points table.
Not since 2006, in the Immortal Andrew Johns's last full season, have they claimed a top-four position in the play-offs.
It is now approaching five years since the NRL ousted "Boganaire" owner Nathan Tinkler, and it would be fair to say no club in recent memory has endured such a protracted rebuilding process. The three wooden spoons of 2015-17 was an ignominious feat matched by only four clubs in the code's history - and three of them are long-since defunct.
Last season, the Knights took their first tangible step forward under the coaching of Nathan Brown, emerging from the competition cellar to finish 12th with nine wins, their best performance since 2014, the last year of the Tinkler-Bennett era.
This year, after quality imports Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga were joined by the likes of David Klemmer, Jesse Ramien, Edrick Lee, Tim Glasby, Kurt Mann and James Gavet, hopes were high that the top eight was within reach, and possibly even the top four.
Five rounds in, those same fans who have poured through the turnstiles with such a sense of anticipation are entitled to be concerned.
How you view the Knights thus far depends on whether you prefer to look at the glass as being one-fifth full or four-fifths empty.
Having conceded only 80 points, fewer even than premiers the Roosters, the Knights are statistically the fourth-best defensive team in the NRL.
They have lost four games by eight points or less, which suggests they have been highly competitive.
But their "for" tally of 68 points is the third worst of any team, and they are yet to score more than 18 points in a game.
Next up they travel to CBus Super Stadium to face Gold Coast Titans, who are also one and four, having opened their account last week with a 30-24 win against Penrith.
The Titans' cause has not been helped by the absence through injury of playmakers Ashleigh Taylor and Tyrone Roberts, and hooker Nathan Peats. Take the spine out of any team and see how they go.
There have been no such ready-made excuses for the Knights. They just haven't found their groove, for whatever reason, and the great unknown is when, or indeed if, they will.
I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I'm starting to get a sense of deja vu about this season.
It's starting to remind me of 2012, the year that seven-time premiership winner Bennett arrived along with hand-picked recruits like Darius Boyd, Danny Buderus, Dane Gagai, Willie Mason, Kade Snowden and Timana Tahu.
Newcastle, who had reached the play-offs a year earlier under Rick Stone, kicked off Bennett's first campaign as premiership favourites.
After eight games, they were four and four, before a five-game losing streak mid-season left them languishing with the also-rans.
They eventually finished 12th, which was a massive anti-climax for the 20,919 fans who turned out on average for their home games.
With the benefit of hindsight, the Knights of that season were simply unable to live up to the hype and expectation. They just weren't as good on the field as they appeared on paper.
Can their 2019 counterparts avoid a similar fate?
My own view is that Brown has a stronger squad at his disposal than did Bennett, who placed too much faith in veterans long past their best days.
But Brown's troops are running out of time to prove they are capable of measuring up to pre-season predictions.
Finals played in round six between two teams sitting equal last on the NRL points table are usually few and far between. But that is the scenario both the Titans and Knights will effectively be facing on Sunday.
It's not necessarily do or die, but any team that starts with one win from their first six games faces a season of playing catch-up football.
Last year, for example, 15 wins were required to make the final eight.
The bottom line is the Knights need to start making inroads, before it is too late.
It's the least they can do for their long-suffering fans, whose patience has been stretched to the limit.