Cessnock Goannas coach Todd Edwards knows the problem all right - but finding the answer is proving frustratingly elusive.
"It's consistency, pure and simple," the coach said, on the back of Saturday's 30-18 loss to South Newcastle.
"We shot ourselves in the foot ... we dropped the ball four times on the first tackle against Souths.
"You're going to find it hard to win games against any team when you do that, but you give yourself no chance against the top teams."
The problem for Edwards is that it is a problem that has been hanging around his talented team all season.
It started in their very first clash against Maitland - Cessnock dominated the opening 15 minutes with two early tries, Maitland fought back to dominate the next 50 minutes, before Cessnock came back with a late surge to fall just short of a win.
The story of the season.
And it's pretty clear Edwards is sick of banging on about it.
"There's no consistency and it's really frustrating," Edwards said.
"Sometimes it's game to game, but other times it's periods within games where we just take all the pressure off.
We dropped the ball four times on the first tackle against Souths ... you're going to find it hard to win games against any team when you do thatCoach Todd Edwards
"You can't keep turning it on and off like a tap."
Probably the most annoying part of it all is that there is little doubt that when the Goannas are on their game, they can match it with anyone.
They showed that a couple of weeks ago when they beat the powerhouse Western Suburbs - the competition's red-hot favourites.
"I think if you look at it, there are two consistent sides - Wests and Souths - and the rest of us are all beating each other.
"So we're not the only ones who are lacking consistency ... there are six sides in the same boat."
One of those is Macquarie United who Cessnock meet on Saturday at Cessnock.
"We've lost our last two so we really need the win," Edwards said.
Five-eight Scott Briggs is in doubt on a high tackle charge. Fortunately they have classy utility Scott Carter on standby should Briggs be ruled out.
Carter came off the bench last week and has covered a number of positions this season.
In other matches the Kurri Bulldogs are away to Lakes on Sunday while Maitland play Souths at Townson Oval on Saturday.