Paul Green says North Queensland's erratic form has taken its toll on player confidence and he wants their home match against Parramatta to mark an NRL season turning point.
Two hot and cold teams will want to put the disappointments of Magic Round behind them in Saturday's match in Townsville, where the Eels have historically struggled.
Much interest will centre on how the visitors respond to their 64-10 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne, a horror result which was followed by long-awaited contract extensions for coach Brad Arthur and star back Clint Gutherson.
Green's only focus was on the wellbeing of his own players, who he said let themselves down with two small but bad periods of play during the 32-16 loss to South Sydney.
The Cowboys were competitive for the majority but paid for the lapses that had become too frequent for Green's liking.
They had drifted to a 3-6 record but Green didn't believe his side had reached a do-or-die point in terms of their final hopes.
"We're not there yet. The way the comp has panned out, it's probably still a bit topsy-turvey," he said.
"But there's no doubt, as a team, we need to just string some wins together for our confidence and to have belief in our own game. That's probably more important for us."
Captain Michael Morgan will play his 150th match for the Cowboys and Kyle Feldt his 100th in the NRL.
While they're notable milestones, Green wanted his players to have tunnel vision and focus on their most glaring shortcomings in recent weeks.
They have the league's second-worst defensive record and the reason is simple, Green said.
"It starts with tackling. I'm not trying to be smart about it. If you can't tackle and get them on the ground, it's very difficult to defend off the back of that," he said.
"Communication's a big thing. The next thing is doing what you talk about doing."
Closing down the space for Gutherson and winger Blake Ferguson was such an obvious tactic that Green didn't mind admitting it.
"Ferguson's a good player for them. Gutherson, his yardage has been pretty good too coming out so we'll need to kick well and make sure the chase is on."
Fringe Queensland State of Origin hooking candidate Jake Granville will start, Green insisted, despite his late demotion to the interchange bench against Souths.
STATS THAT MATTER
* North Queensland have conceded the most second-half points of any team (135) while Parramatta have scored the third-most (117).
* Michael Morgan will become the 15th Cowboys player to reach 150 games for the club.
* The Cowboys have made the fewest linebreaks in the competition (2.7 per game) and conceded the most (six).