IF Adam O'Brien has had second thoughts, who could blame him?
Knights officials are expected to announce in the near future that O'Brien, the Sydney Roosters assistant coach, has been appointed to replace Nathan Brown as Newcastle's head man.
But after Newcastle's 46-4 humiliation by Wests Tigers at Campbelltown on Saturday, O'Brien might be entitled to wonder if he is being offered a drink from the posioned chalice.
The Knights have been beaten by bigger scorelines on a number of occasions, but in the 32-year history of their club, it is hard to remember a more woeful performance, given what was at stake.
- READ MORE: Newcastle Knights news
Both teams went into the game level-pegging, knowing it was a must-win fixture that could potentially lift them to within a point of the top eight.
Newcastle started brightly and almost scored the opening try of the game in the third minute, when skipper Mitchell Pearce grubber kicked and rookie winger Bradman Best was unable to scoop up the bouncing ball and ground it in-goal.
Within a minute, the Tigers had replied at the other end, and at that moment the Knights may as well have waved a white flag.
By half-time it was 30-0 to the home team, and Newcastle's season was as good as over.
Far from rallying behind Brown after last week's announcement that he would be signing off at the end of the season, the Knights simply capitulated.
Such results were commonplace in Brown's first season at the helm, when he had the NRL's weakest and most inexperienced roster at his disposal.
But on Saturday night, Newcastle's team sheet featured five current Origin representatives, two former Australian Test players and three ex-Kiwi internationals.
The collective effort, or lack thereof, was beyond embarrassing and continued a disastrous spiral that few would have predicted earlier in the season, when Newcastle were flying high in the top five after a six-game winning streak.
Memories of the Knights' triumphs against teams like Cronulla, Parramatta, Sydney Roosters and South Sydney - all of whom sit in the top eight - merely exacerbate the disappointment their fans are feeling.
Brown said Saturday's insipid first-half display reflected why he realised he had reached his use-by date as Newcastle's coach.
"When you're in these situations, when you get to the end of the road with where I'm at ... you're either going to get an outstanding performance or what we got in the first half," he said.
"What we did in the first half was a long way behind what that group of players can get to and it's disappointing for lots of people."
So much for the theory that Brown is handing over a squad on the cusp of great feats.
The new coach, regardless or whether it is O'Brien or someone else, might well have to rebuild Brown's rebuild.
Knights supporters, who in my opinion are the best in the NRL and have proven that this season with a home-crowd average of 20,032 per game, are entitled to be filthy.
It's six years now since their club last featured in the play-offs. Six seasons in which they have won 42 of a possible 142 games and collected three wooden spoons in the process.
God only knows how much longer they will have to wait for a team capable of reaching the top eight, let alone challenging for a title.
While you're with us, did you know Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here.
IN NEWS TODAY: