It was a season that kicked off promising plenty but ended up delivering little. In many respects, a golden opportunity wasted.
But despite the continuing despair for Knights fans craving finals footy, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the red and blue in 2019. Scattered among the wreckage, if you looked hard enough, were signs of life and better times ahead.
Just enough positives to keep the faith. Among them the emergence of some young stars of the future, the whole-hearted consistency of high profile new recruit David Klemmer, unprecedented membership numbers and great crowd support, and some outstanding team performances that showed what is possible.
There were players like Hymel Hunt and Edrick Lee who performed above expectations while Connor Watson's outstanding work off the field to highlight and raise money in support of helping to bring down indigenous youth suicide rates should be recognised.
In the first of a three-part season review, here is our Top 8 positives for 2019.
1: THE STREAK
It was desperation stakes with the team, running equal last after losing five of their first six games with coach Nathan Brown under enormous pressure.
But then came the string of wins that left them in the top four at one point and knocking on the door at the end of round 13. Fortunes soared as did the expectation.
The inspiring run of six straight wins was kicked off by a 28-14 thumping of Parramatta in round seven at home and included the scalps of the Warriors, Bulldogs, Dragons, Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Skipper Mitchell Pearce reeled off five Dally M man-of-the-match performances. By the end of it, there were those willing to believe the Knights were a genuine premiership threat.
It was great while it lasted.
2: ROOSTERS ROUT
Not since Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus ruled supreme had McDonald Jones Stadium witnessed a night quite like it.
The atmosphere was electric as the Knights gave a bumper crowd of 25,929 an 80 minute performance to savour against the Sydney Roosters, demolishing the defending premiers 38-12 on a Saturday night in late May.
The highlights were many with brilliant individual tries from Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson among them. Such was the euphoria in the stadium, when David Klemmer was sin binned for a professional foul in the shadows of full time, he walked off the field to a standing ovation.
But the defining moment came just seconds from halftime when skipper Mitchell Pearce stormed through and dived over under the posts from close range for a try against his former club. Pearce rose to his feet in front of a pumping southern hill and kissed the badge on his jersey before being swamped by jubilant teammates. It didn't get any better than that.
3: KLEM'S IMPACT
Klemmer was the club's biggest off-season signing and he lived up to the hype and the hefty price tag with an outstanding debut season for the club, averaging almost 170 metres and 34 tackles per game.
A fractured wrist suffered in Origin l hampered him during the back end of the season but no-one should doubt his courage and commitment to the cause and his influence on the club's young, developing forwards.
Daniel Saifiti's meteoric rise to Origin status is a case in point. Klemmer showed some real class and further endeared himself to fans when he privately donated his two $30,000 Origin match fees to Knights staffer Scott Dureau, who is fighting brain cancer.
4: FAN PASSION
Knights fans once again showed why they are rated the most passionate in the NRL.
Despite a sixth straight season without finals footy, the club's average home crowd of 19,053 was second only to the Brisbane Broncos while memberships exceeded 20,000 for the first time in history.
The biggest home crowd of the season was the 25,929 that witnessed the great win over the Roosters but there were four other occasions when the Knights attracted more than 20,000 fans.
Had it not been for the dismal 8,274 that turned up on Old Boys' Day in ordinary weather for the clash with the Titans in the penultimate round, the average crowd figure would have exceeded 20,000 as well.
5: THE ROOKIES
It was only a small taste but fans finally got to see what has been promised by the club for some time - the emergence of exciting teenage talent.
Young playmaker Phoenix Crossland got the ball rolling, debuting off the bench back in July and making a 12 minute cameo against the Warriors.
Then, at the back-end of the season after just turning 18, outstanding young centre Bradman Best was given his opportunity which he took with both hands while 19-year-old Starford Toa scored on debut against the Panthers in the final round.
There's more to come with the club's Harold Matthews Under 16's winning the comp and the Jersey Flegg Under 20's making the play-offs.
6: CONNOR'S CAUSE
Few teammates played with more passion and will-to-win than Watson, who was dynamic at times when switched to hooker during the season and he capped off a strong year by being named as a finalist for the Danny Buderus Medal, ultimately won by Mitch Barnett.
But for all he achieved on the field, nothing matched what he did in the community with the charity foundation he set up with his parents Jodie and Mark to raise money and awareness to help tackle Indigenous youth suicide. The sudden death of his cousin Parker in Dubbo two years ago was a catalyst.
7: LESSER LIGHTS
Outside backs Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt weren't heralded as big name signings before a ball was kicked but both finished the season with their reputation's enhanced.
Lee was outstanding on the left wing, earning a Dally M winger of the year nomination despite his season being cut short after he fractured his arm in late June against the Brisbane Broncos. Hunt was just as big a success story. Signed as a back-up on a one year deal worth a modest $140,000, he ended up as the only player in the squad to play every NRL game.
8: ORIGIN SUCCESS
As much as the failure to handle the Origin period aftermath may have contributed to the side's disastrous back half of the season, the fact the Knights produced five Blues and Maroons players in Klemmer, Saifiti, Pearce, Kalyn Ponga and Tim Glasby is a sure sign the club's roster has plenty going for it.
Saifiti's emergence as a representative player and Pearce's triumphant return in the decider were real feel-good stories for the club.
Part 2 of the Knights 2019 season in review:
What fans on Twitter liked about the Knights season.
- David Klemmer donating his Origin funds to Scott Dureau. Great act from a great person and Scott a deserving recipient of his kindness. @ Cameron97822403
- Season's highlight was without doubt Edrick Lee getting a nomination for winger of the year. @tomhagan88
- The show of youth, the promise of hope. The being able to match it with the eventual premiership winners on our best day. @Matt_Mollison
- Edrick Lee is never mentioned but he was a great winger that scored the winning try in Rd 1. Ever since he got injured mid-season, the Knights went downhill. @Pinchtick
- Connor Watson for his effort on AND off the field. He has become what Newcastle has always been about - hard work on the park and a legend in the community. And the fans for their commitment to show up every week. @BecPrestwidge
- The support of fans....although even that was questionable by season's end. @MaitlandMumbler
- Ist grade hasn't been defeated since 09/09/2019. @mrbargearse
- David Klemmer - Mr consistent. Bloke has become a crowd favourite so quickly. We absolutely love him. @timmy_tahs16
- Crowd levels until last home game. @MaxMckinney
- 3 good things. The improvement in Daniel Saifiti, the noise of the crowd the night of #KnightsvsRoosters and the juniors who'll be in first grade next year - Best, Crossland and Hoy that bleed #rednblue. @mickskehan
- The atmosphere of defeating the Roosters at home. It didn't last but on that Friday, the Knights were Kings. @Robert_Crosby95
- The form of Daniel Saifiti in making Origin and becoming a pack leader. @Nobbys_Wizz
- The home crowds continuing to show up in spite of the poor performances on the field at home this year. The fans firing a warning shot with the crowd on old boys day. @The_Walrus007
- Hymel Hunt was an oft unsung hero of the @NRLKnights 2019 season and an unexpected great signing. @FAWhobertson
- The blooding of young guns into first grade is a massive positive. Bringing back a sense of "home grown". @mort_z