THE Knights are burdened with a problem but its exact nature is a mystery. Willie Mason is at a loss for an explanation. Coach Wayne Bennett has begun to address the issue but won't elaborate.
Both agree the Knights cannot afford another sleepy start against the Sharks at Hunter Stadium tonight if they are to be a realistic chance of making the finals.
''Of course it's fixable, but the first thing is knowing what the problem is, and I'm thinking I'm getting closer to knowing what the problem is,'' Bennett said.
''The first time it happens, you think it's a bit of an aberration, the second time you're not too sure, the third time you start to realise you've got an issue, and by the fifth time, you obviously haven't got it resolved.
''But as I said, I think we're getting closer to getting some answers as to what's actually happening.''
The Knights trailed the Bulldogs 24-0 after 17 minutes nine days ago, recovering to outplay the NRL leaders for much of the final hour only to go down 26-10, and there have been similar slow starts all season.
They trailed the Broncos 24-0 after 21 minutes and lost 50-24, and trailed the Rabbitohs 22-4 after 24 minutes and lost 34-14.
Twice they have recovered to win after missing the jump. In their last Monday night game, seven weeks ago, they trailed the Tigers 14-0 after 23 minutes and fought back to win 38-20. They dug themselves an 18-0 hole against the Warriors in Auckland three weeks ago but rallied to win 24-19.
Not often stuck for words, Mason said: ''I'd like to give you a proper answer but I just don't know. We have done that three or four times this year … so we really need to nail that, and we've got a month to work on it.''
The giant forward, who will be joined in the front row by fellow former NSW and Australian prop Kade Snowden tonight after Snowden was cleared to return from a knee injury, said the players were pleased with how well they hit back against the Bulldogs. ''We don't want to dwell on it too much, but if everyone could have that [first] 17 minutes back, I'm sure we'd do it a lot different,'' he said.
''We've worked on that all week and we've tried to fix a few things, so hopefully we don't have that same start as last week. We've been working pretty hard, and that's not our go.''
Sharks captain Paul Gallen set the scene for an explosive clash with Snowden, describing the former Test and NSW prop's decision to leave Cronulla as a blessing in disguise.
Snowden sensationally turned his back on the Sharks last season when he abandoned a press conference intended to announce his re-signing before linking with Newcastle.
''We couldn't ask for better,'' Gallen said. ''Obviously Snowy and Luke Douglas last year were high-profile guys for this club and were going to demand some pretty big money.
''We were obviously really upset when we lost them but it's turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
''Instead of keeping those two we've picked up six. And those six are going really well, guys like [Andrew] Fifita, Bryce Gibbs and Ben Ross. The blokes we've brought in have done a great job all year.''