When the '05 well finally runs dry, where do the Tigers go next?

There is no drug more powerful than nostalgia - but as the Tigers trudged off after yet another loss on Monday, it's doubtful even fond memories of Benji Marshall's flick pass or Chris Heighington's post-match interview could force a smile from anyone in the fanbase.

The final flurry against the Eels was peculiar - not for anything that happened, but rather for a lack of any sort of belief from fans who'd seen it all before.

Usually, if a team of underdogs are pressing for an upset victory the crowd is behind them, be it virtually or in person. But at Accor Stadium, and on social media, there was a general malaise, a sense that at some point during this comeback bid, things would go horribly wrong.

And then sure enough, Charlie Staines, who up until that point had had the best game of his fledgling Tigers career, spilled a goal line dropout over the sideline, fumbling any chance of forcing golden point.

Another loss, and this time a fortnight to ruminate on it - not to mention a barrage of the 'oh so predictable' bye jokes incoming.

A lot of the stats from the game pointed towards a Tigers victory - and to be honest, they probably deserved one. But at this stage, moral victories aren't something to cherish.

How did it get to this point? 2022 was supposed to be as bad as it got - but with Tim Sheens flanked by Robbie Farah and Marshall in the coaches box, it seems as though the well of '05 vibes has finally been tapped dry.

The team are 0-6, already two wins' adrift of second-last (the Raiders, by the way, went to Brisbane and sprung a huge upset against the same team that beat the Tigers by 30 a week earlier) and will have to wait until round eight to try and claim that first elusive victory.

Sheens joked a couple of weeks ago that "I hope we beat the bye in a couple of weeks" - on face value a nothing comment, but a slap in the face to the dismayed fans.

Winning the competition in 2005 was the finest moment in the joint venture's brief history. It was one of, if not the greatest ever NRL moments from a neutral point of view. But the club choosing to defer to the past at every opportunity has become a curse.

Before their round one loss, Sheens hadn't coached in a decade, and excluding that fairytale run in 2005, only oversaw two winning seasons in ten other campaigns.

None of the plans put in place for the next five years made any sense - and now, with the Benji Marshall succession plan already locked in place, there's no room to be malleable.

Sheens has already said he's going nowhere, and that the plan to install Marshall as coach will go ahead in 2025, as planned.

With that in mind, what can change? There's not going to be a change in the backroom, and with Adam Doueihi now out of the season, the playing stocks are thin as well.

Every signing they made in the off-season looked like a slam dunk on paper - but despite the efforts of new and old faces, nothing is working. And it seems more likely each week that we'll begin to talk about the club in the way that we talk about the big three of NRL-era futility; Western Suburbs in 1999, Souths in the early 2000s, and Newcastle in the mid-2010s.

The Magpies were dwindling towards oblivion with a merger already in place with Balmain and plenty of players unlikely to ever play in the NRL again. The Rabbitohs had just returned to the competition and were still years away from the professionalism you associate with that club now, and the Knights, while boasting a few big names, definitely had a weaker roster than the Tigers do now.

Since their mid-season bye last year, the Tigers have won once in 18 outings. It's been 11 months since their last win at home, and more than a calendar year since they knocked off a top eight team.

It would take, at the very least, another spoon season for the Tigers to claim the fourth spot on the most-unwanted of Mt Rushmores - but even if things do improve and they stumble their way to seven or eight wins, is that really as good as it's going to get in the foreseeable future?

They haven't won double digit games since 2019. They haven't made the finals since 2011.

When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up - unless you just keep going sideways.