THE sight of mega-rich owner Nathan Tinkler at Newcastle's last training session before tonight's season-opening game was hardly going to intimidate Wayne Bennett, the game's greatest coach. Bennett probably invited Tinkler to attend, like he has on previous occasions.
Whatever expectations Tinkler or anyone else has of Bennett, they won't exceed those Bennett has of himself. He hasn't won a record seven premierships - six with Brisbane and the other with St George Illawarra - by letting himself off lightly.
The eyes of those in the league world who don't cram into Hunter Stadium to see the Knights play the Dragons will be glued to the television coverage of the match, wondering how Bennett's new team will fare against his old one.
Whatever happens out there, and whether it's good or bad, Bennett won't get carried away. He's never been one to ride the emotional roller-coaster, and this is only early days. Bennett has done a lot of work with the Knights already, but there is so much more to be carried out.
Bennett's pre-season self has been a repeat of what he was like leading into his first season with the Dragons, in 2009. He hasn't said much publicly, taking the view that his team hasn't done anything yet so there is nothing to talk about. It's one of his proven formulas.
Newcastle, in the 10 seasons since winning the most recent of its two premierships, has had that look of a club that has too readily accepted being thereabouts, at best, in the title race. Bennett, a master of intuition, would have immediately picked up on any sense of that.
If there were tiny things to notice in the way the players prepared, he would have noticed it immediately, and while it's going to take a while for the Knights to perfect the style in which Bennett wants them to play, their fans can be sure of seeing one thing tonight.
The team will attack the basic elements that put you in a position to do something. How quickly the defence moves up, how enthusiastically they chase the kicks, that sort of thing. Expect the Knights to be buzzing when it comes to doing that, because that is what Bennett would have concentrated heavily on so far.
Bennett and Tinkler talked for 10 minutes while the team warmed up before yesterday's session, and then Tinkler stayed for its duration. Later in the day, Tinkler spoke about the great potential he saw in the team heading into this season.
''For the first time in years there is a feeling that we have a team that can compete for the premiership,'' Tinkler said. ''There is a level of excitement and expectation that the city has not experienced since 'Joey' Johns was playing.
''It's great that the people of the Hunter will get the opportunity to see the likes of Darius [Boyd], Danny [Buderus], Kurt [Gidley] and Aku [Uate] playing at home on a regular basis.
''There is a feeling around Newcastle and throughout the Hunter that we are starting something special from the opening game.''
Just like the sight of Tinkler turning up at training wouldn't have fazed him, Bennett wouldn't feel pressured by the owner's words. It wouldn't bother a great player like Johns, either, if he was still going around.
Bennett is already there to do the job the best he can, using a mountain of experience that gives him absolute belief in his ability to make the right decisions. Just like when Bennett was at the Dragons, it's going to be fascinating to see how it all works out.