Sometimes you learn more from heartbreak than success, which is why Josh Hodgson says the Canberra Raiders are ready for Melbourne redemption on Saturday.
The Raiders will return to the scene of their shattering preliminary final loss in 2016 when they play the Melbourne Storm in the opening weekend of finals action.
The memory of a missed opportunity three years ago still burns inside the Raiders who were there that night, losing 14-12 in front of almost 30,000 fans.
The travelling green army will hit the Victorian capital again, but this time they're armed with a rock solid defence and the knowledge of what it takes to win big games.
The Raiders have spent the past five weeks tuning up for their finals opportunity, using games against the Storm, the Roosters, the Sharks and Manly as the perfect lead in to the play-offs.
"It's the little things that people don't see [that win you finals]," Hodgson said.
"It's not the trick plays or anything fancy. Kick pressure, the line speed, pinning teams in a corner - that's what wins you big games, that's what semi-finals are all about.
"The good things come off the back of little things. If you don't tick off basics in semi-finals, you're not going to win the game.
"This is something we've touched on all year. It's a long year, but when you get to the semis you don't want it to be for nothing.
"I think we've made some improvements and there are still to make, but when you get to that do-or-die attitude, it certainly sparks a bit of renewed energy in the side."
The Raiders enjoyed their most consistent winning season in 16 years to finish four on the ladder, but they slipped up in the last round.
An under-manned Raiders side suffered a surprise four-point defeat against the New Zealand Warriors, which raised questions about the Green Machine's premiership credentials.
But the return of six stars - Jordan Rapana, John Bateman, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Sia Soliola, Joey Leilua and Joe Tapine - is a perfectly-timed boost for their aspirations.
The Raiders haven't won a premiership since 1994 and haven't played in the finals since Melbourne knocked them out in a grand final qualifier in 2016.
The Raiders beat the Storm in Melbourne five weeks ago, coming back from 18-0 to win 22-18.
"We're not really looking at that game at all though. Melbourne have been in this situation many, many times, so you have to be good.
"We know if we're on, and we're playing our potential, we can beat anyone.
"We know Melbourne will be hungry to get us, especially after we beat them, but it's about having that self belief.
"The run home we've had over the past month or two, the teams we've played and the atmosphere we've played in ... it's been good prep for the guys who haven't played finals."
Coach Ricky Stuart rested key players last week to make sure they were fresh for the play-offs.
"It's good to be back after a couple of disappointing seasons," veteran Soliola said.
"It's a different sort of feel this year. It's very focused, very prepared, definitely more prepared than we were last time we were here.
"Especially someone at my age and with me being at the back end of my career, these opportunities are ones you want to relish as much as you can. We've got a lifeline so to speak, this is essentially do-or-die for us. That's the mentality we're going in with. We're going in to do our best."
NRL QUALIFYING FINAL
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm at Melbourne, 5.40pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (c), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Bailey Simonsson, 15. Dunamis Lui, 16. Corey Horsburgh, 17. Ryan Sutton. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams, 19. Emre Guler, 20. Siliva Havili.
Storm squad: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Justin Olam, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenneath Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Tui Kamikamica, 16. Max King,17. Joe Stimson. Reserves: 18. Curtis Scott, 19. Tino Faasuamaleaui, 20. Brodie Croft, 21. Tom Eisenhuth.