Maitland coach Luke Boyle is taking solace that the Mustangs turned in one of their worst performances of the season yet only lost by six points to top of the table rivals Central Coast Crusaders.
The Mustangs started in a blaze of glory to lead 27-17 at the first break but dropped their guard and intensity to go down 74-80 in what was effectively a battle for top spot.
Assured play-offs action, Boyle's major concern is that the Magpies learn their lessons from an off-the-boil performance and play with the intensity that has served them so well in a five game winning streak since losing to top side Manly at the start of June.
The Mustangs cause was not served with star Isaiah Ellis missing for the third quarter as he had a dislocated finger treated.
Jack Edwards battled supremely to keep his side in the contest but the Mustangs did not receive the support they had grown accustomed to off their bench.
"I think we really missed Lachlan Beavis' input off the bench," Boyle said.
"Sam Huggins is also struggling with pain and it would be nice to get him a break.
"We were down overall, but I think we left the defence particularly to too few.
"We had one or two winners who really put in, but the rest I think left it to them.
"Our speed slowed down after the first quarter and we made silly errors and struggled to compete without that intensity which is so important.
"We were sitting back trying to defend and they controlled the mid-court.
"We were also guilty of turning over far too much ball with rash passes which weren't on.
"The majority of the turnovers were more about our errors rather than the pressure imposed by Central Coast.
"We allowed them to score far too often from second chance ball, overall we were down in the defensive areas where we have been dominating.
"They scored 28 points to 14 from turnovers and they scored 17 second chance points to our eight.
"To play so bad and yet get within six points at the end shows us we can beat them if we are at our best."
Boyle said he believed his side had got too far ahead of themselves on Saturday night and were thinking about the win and securing second spot rather than concentrating on the process of winning a game.
"We talked about it after the game and I don't think there is any reason to panic," Boyle said.
"From early on the season I said our main focus was on making the finals.
"I firmly believe we have the side when we start with out intensity in defence that can beat any team in the competition.
"We are likely to host a semi-final but I really think we can win the title from wherever we start."
Ellis and Edwards led the scoring for Maitland with 21 and 16 respectively. They also pulled in 10 and six rebounds. Josh Clifford scored 12 and pulled in six rebounds in a strong all-round game.
Despite discomfort Sam Huggins managed to pull in seven rebounds.