Gunnedah coach John Hickey has given his side a pass mark for the season - and says playing "basic" football is the key for the Bulldogs.
As the third-placed Dogs prepare to meet a resurgent Roosters at Kootingal on Sunday, Hickey said: "I'm happy with where we're at."
However, he said a struggle to get the full side together at training was an ongoing hindrance.
"But we'll make do with what's there, and it'll be coming good," he said. "There's no excuses if we lose now - put it that way."
He added: "We've never had the same side exactly, but we've had the core now for probably three or four weeks.
"So we're starting to get used to each other, and starting to get those little organisational skills a bit better.
"But again, what we turn up with on the day isn't necessarily what we train with ... again, with shift work we just can't put a team together.
"But it doesn't matter: the players are all pretty fair footballers. So when they get out there, we keep it all fairly basic ... if they go play a basic game, then everything will be all right."
Gunnedah have three wins and three losses this season. One of those wins came in round two against the Roosters at Kitchener Park, when a dominant second-half display led to a 46-18 triumph.
Fourth-placed Kooty have had an uneven season - with three wins and four losses - but their coach Geoff Sharpe was heartened by the side's 34-14 away defeat of Dungowan last round.
Hickey expects a torrid contest on Sunday. "It's about us making sure we reach a standard," he said. "And if we can reach that standard, we're confident that we can win."
The Bulldogs will be without halfback Matt Brady on Sunday. He has a social engagement in Newcastle.
Hickey had thought he was going to have a much easier time naming his side this week, but how wrong he was.
Early into Thursday night training at Kitchener Park, minutes after he'd named his starting side, it all fell apart.
Second-rower Hayden Jaeger, was the first casualty. "10 minutes after we started [training] his ankle went," Hickey said. "He'd hurt it earlier this season."
"Then my winger, Paul sharply, tells me he's been transferred in his work [and can't play this round]."
If it couldn't get any worse, Regan Walsh, picked to replace Brady, then told Hickey he had to work Sunday - having initially thought the game was on Saturday.
"How's that?" Hickey said. "I finally have a week where I think I will have the side I pick and this happens."
Another Bulldog, Ben Murray, has moved to Perth. While Blake McIlveen, one of the Bulldogs' best this year, will miss Sunday's game due to work.
"It's battle stations all round," Hickey said.
It's exactly the opposite at Kootingal, where Roosters coach Geoff Sharpe had the luxury of naming an unchanged side.
His Roosters are fresh from a second-half surge to overcome a 14-10 deficit and beat Dungowan 30-14 at Dungowan last Saturday.
Sharpe retained Kyle Cochrane in the centres but said the rampaging back-rower could move in "closer" later in the game.
"He got a good 80 minutes under his belt last week," Sharpe said.