The first step when you hit rock bottom is generally considered to be an admission.
So, on cue only days out from Parramatta's season-opener against the Warriors, fullback Jarryd Hayne has conceded that the Eels simply do not have the talent that most of the other premiership squads have.
That will not surprise many who watched the Eels last year. The side took out the wooden spoon and subsequently lost two of their veterans, Nathan Hindmarsh and Luke Burt, to retirement. But coming from the star player of the Eels, and once the star player of the competition, the frankness of the statement is still unexpected.
''We don't have the talent of most teams,'' Hayne said on Monday. ''We don't. It's evident. We're a young team, we're definitely inexperienced, but I think that's something we can build on. But we definitely work hard, and we're willing to put in for each other.''
That's something that makes a good team. Any player would rather play with a team that's willing to work hard and to put in than to play with a team full of talent. That's the most exciting part of this season. We'll find out what kind of team we are.''
With coach Ricky Stuart joining the club, it is inevitable that the Eels will work hard. But they are clearly in a rebuilding phase and, for that reason, Hayne seemed genuinely unsure about what kind of squad the Eels, who face the Warriors on Saturday, possessed. What he did believe was that the Eels could do what two of the best sides in recent years, Manly and Melbourne, have done. Perhaps not to win premierships just yet, but to at least build from the ground up.
''We've spoken a lot about culture and new beginnings at Parra,'' Hayne said. ''It's something that we can create and help mould. The good teams like Manly and Melbourne, they were once that inexperienced team. They were once that team which lacked talent, but they worked hard, and now it's paying off, from those hard years.
''There's no shortcuts to it. They just worked hard.''
Hayne, of course, does not lack talent. Much of the Eels' success this season will be guided by how much football he plays, and how well he plays when he does take the field.
Stuart will play him at fullback for now, even though Hayne maintained a move into five-eighth was ''inevitable''. The form of five-eighth Luke Kelly, who joined the Eels from Melbourne last season, will decide how long Hayne remains a No.1.
''I'm going to be a five-eighth eventually,'' Hayne said. ''But I've got a lot of confidence in Luke Kelly. I really rate him as a five-eighth. He's been unfortunate with injuries at the start of his career, but once he gets going, he can be solid for us, and give me an opportunity to play fullback. It's definitely the position I really enjoy.
''But the ball's in Lukey's court. How good Lukey plays will determine how long I'm at fullback for. If he cements his position, it could be longer, which is fine by me. I'm still young. There's still plenty of years left.''
A rare full pre-season might ensure Hayne hits top gear earlier than usual.
''I'm in good shape,'' the Eels co-captain said. ''But with me, it doesn't matter how hard I train. It's always about the game fitness. It's totally different. You do all that pre-season, but you still get into the game and you're blowing.
''The pre-season's been torturous as normal, but I was excited to be able to be available to do every session. But I'm glad it's over. The fun stuff comes now. The hard work's been done.''