Cronulla have bristled at suggestions they've peaked too early, pointing to North Queensland's ability to overcome some late-season hiccups in their historic NRL premiership charge last year.
The Sharks are desperate to get back in the winner's circle against South Sydney this week after going winless the last three weeks and relinquishing top spot.
Their draw with Gold Coast to break their 15-game winning streak and losses to Canberra and St George Illawarra were interpreted as signs they're suffering the yips with a maiden title in sight.
However, fullback Ben Barba hit back at suggestions they were dead in the water heading into September.
"I think that's a bit of rubbish. The Cowboys lost a few last year and went on to win the comp," Barba said.
The Sharks are second headed into Monday's clash at ANZ Stadium with the Rabbitohs, just one point behind the Storm and well in the hunt for the minor premiership.
The Cowboys lost three of their five regular round games as well as their qualifying final to Brisbane last year, leading many to predict they'd gone off the boil when the whips were cracking.
But they recovered in time to make it through to the grand final and beat the Broncos in a golden point classic.
"That's just a bit of talk," Barba said of people writing off his side.
"We won 16 straight and were ladder leaders and now after a few games people forget we've only lost four games so far this year."