Cowboys prop Corey Jensen says it "really does burn" to have missed the finals for the past two years and expects the feeling to motivate the club through a summer slog.
North Queensland's younger and less established players began pre-season training on Monday after the team finished 14th in 2019.
The Cowboys haven't been to the playoffs since their grand final appearance in 2017 and Jensen – a member of that side which ultimately lost to Melbourne – is craving redemption.
Jensen said coach Paul Green, whose first day back was Tuesday, has challenged the group to "win everything you do" at training.
"He sort of came into us and really emphasised competing in the pre-season," Jensen told NRL.com.
"Whether that's running conditioning or if you're doing one-on-one [drills] with other people, just trying to be the best you can be and pushing yourself to the limits. Just trying to be better every day."
There hasn't yet been a proper deconstruction of the club's shortcomings last season, however.
"We haven't discussed too much of that as a group," Jensen said.
"We have meetings and that later this week, just probably around culture and what we want to strive for so I guess that will be brought up then."
On a personal note, Jensen is determined to resolidify himself in the NRL after spending most of the past season in the Queensland Cup.
He outlined some defensive aspects of his game that need improvement.
"Obviously last year I would have liked to have played more NRL than I did. I think I got six games out compared to the last two years where I was in there a fair bit," he said.
"[It's] just getting my body right, getting in front in tackles and some of those effort areas that in Q Cup you can probably get away with but you can't really get away with in the NRL.
"It's about just doing that every single game and being consistent."
Now a relatively experienced campaigner with 41 NRL games under his belt heading into his fourth season, the 25-year-old Jensen is among those setting the benchmarks for the squad's newcomers.
"I guess it's up to us older boys to keep pushing those standards and make sure that they live up to those expectations and we're showing them the right way," he said.
North Queensland's marquee man Jason Taumalolo will enjoy a deserved break before joining Cowboys training following Tonga's historic Test wins over Great Britain and Australia.
Nonetheless, he has provided inspiration for his club teammates from afar.
"Jason's a one-of-a-kind player. He's done instrumental things for Tonga over there and I think what he's done has been really great for the international game," Jensen said.
"For Tonga, it's huge. To see how they performed, I watched that game [against Australia last Saturday] and I thought they were outstanding.
"I know what he can do [as a leader], but to show everyone what he's like as a leader and a person has been really good for the game.
"He does that for us week in, week out, so it's good to see him doing that for his country. I'm proud of him."