Manly argue a chaotic season filled with injury and suspensions has steeled them for Friday's do-or-die semi-final with North Queensland.
The Sea Eagles will be without suspended centre Steve Matai, while talismanic co-captain Jamie Lyon won't be considered unless he can complete a training session on his injured calf by Thursday.
While the Sea Eagles recovered to finish with a top four spot, their late season winning streak was sparked by the team getting close to their full complement of players back.
That point doesn't concern coach Geoff Toovey and fullback Brett Stewart - both of whom point to the challenges Manly has overcome to feature in the finals this year.
That started with the departure of head coach Des Hasler and half of his support staff in the off-season, rolled into a lengthy injury for lock Glenn Stewart and a seven-week suspension for back-rower Tony Williams.
"All year's been a disruptive one," Brett Stewart said.
"(It has been) backs against the wall and it's no different this week. It's probably something we're used to.
"(Overcoming adversity) is a trait of the team, for sure."
Already without Matai at left centre, Toovey said he would not risk going into the sudden-death match without Lyon testing out the calf muscle he strained in Friday night's qualifying final loss to Canterbury.
But he remained optimistic Manly could prevail no matter who runs out in the centres.
"Of course we can (win without Matai) ... We will if we need to," he said.
"We have been without some players through this year, key players through injury and suspension.
"And we'll get through this game as well.
"... We've got some very good, strong characters in the side with some experience as well. But we also need those other players to stand up as well.
"Most (of the team) were involved (in finals) last year. They know what it's about. I'm sure they'll produce the goods."
One key player against the Cowboys will be Dean Whare, again filling in for Matai at left centre.
He will face an in-form Brent Tate.
But while Whare admits Matai's loss is significant, he believes the Sea Eagles are capable of covering his loss.
"Steve's definitely a big loss, just his enthusiasm in defence is second to none," Whare told AAP.
"There's no one that plays like him in our team. I think everyone has to do a little bit extra this week just to fill his position."
And Stewart believes if the Sea Eagles, who fell from premiership favouritism following their loss to Canterbury, are to upset the Cowboys, they need more from their leading players.
"Semi-final football really brings out the leaders and I guess the Bulldogs had more than us on Friday night," he said.
"We'll be looking to have more than the Cowboys on Friday."
But Toovey did indicate that even if Lyon was less than 100 per cent - he may gamble on playing the star centre.
"I think with the do-or-die game that we've got, you probably have to," Toovey said.