Adam O'Brien has told Newcastle players they cannot be content with their semi-finals exit and he wants the Knights' best season in a decade to be a springboard for the future.
The hottest team of the NRL for the past three months with 10 straight wins, Newcastle saved their worst for last with a dismal opening costing them in Saturday's semi-final against the Warriors.
After failing to complete a set until the 15th minute of the semi-final, Newcastle were 16-0 down before they touched the ball in the Warriors' half before eventually losing 40-10.
Coach O'Brien stressed that players could not be happy with that defeat if the club was going in the direction he wanted it to.
"For us to be okay with that performance given what we have done for the past 11 weeks, that wouldn't mean progress for the club at all," he said.
"I am glad it has hurt all of us.
"It's funny because we didn't deserve to end like that, but we deserved to end like that.
"The way we started the game we applied way too much pressure to ourself with discipline.
"But in time we can look back, they have done a pretty good job. We have been going at it for 12 weeks straight without a break."
Under pressure as coach earlier in the year and off contract after next season, O'Brien said he expected to sort his future with the Knights after a brief post-season holiday.
He also expects to be met by an equally determined playing group when pre-season starts.
O'Brien was particularly critical of his side's defence on Saturday night, admitting it lacked the steel it had in recent months.
A better start to the season would also be crucial, not leaving the team as much to do late after they at one stage slumped to 14th in June this year.
"Over time we can look back at this season as a year we have taken a few step forward. The key now is to keep going," O'Brien said.
"We're at the start. We were never going to build it straight away, but it's a good step in the right direction.
"We can't just walk away from this season.
We have set some high standards. We have to go at it again. Just being content with this is not good enough.
"When we come back from pre-season, we want to build on what we have done the last few months."