Penrith coach Ivan Cleary claims his side have learned to stand up for themselves as they aim to go one step better than last year's grand final loss.
Cleary on Wednesday shot down suggestions his youngsters had become cocky, confident Stephen Crichton's contrary conduct fine was a one-off.
But what the Panthers have no doubt about is that teams are targeting them more and they want to hold their own.
They were blown out of the water in last year's grand final by Melbourne, where there is a feeling at Penrith they had been worked over off the ball by the Storm.
It's been noticeable that the Panthers are this year happy to return serve, with more mongrel evident in their game.
"We definitely want that. Because if you don't then teams will keep niggling," Cleary said.
"That's just competitive combat, I guess.
"We've been reasonably successful so what comes with that is we get a little bit niggle toward our boys.
"At the moment our boys are combating that however they can.
"I mentioned the other day that the difference between this year and last year is that boys do have more belief and I guess that's just part of that."
Cleary also believes his team has grown more experienced at how to better handle situations.
"Our boys are themselves and they play, how they play and it's just evolving all the time," Cleary said.
"We certainly started last year as underdogs and played on that a little bit.
"As the year progressed last year that turned and this year is totally different for us.
"Each week is a new contest and the opposition will have a different strategy and we're just dealing with that as best we can."
Cleary meanwhile also played down any suggestion the side's success had gone to their head before Thursday night's clash with Brisbane.
Crichton drew the ire of critics for hugging Canberra's Joseph Tapine in a try celebration late in last week's win over the Raiders, sparking a melee.
The Raiders were also hit with a proposed $10,000 fine from the NRL on Tuesday night, when a trainer briefly became involved as the scuffle ensued.
"There was one incident where I could see and that was dealt with, which is fine," Cleary said.
"I'm always on the look out to make sure we're behaving the right way and all that kind of stuff. But I'm not too worried about.
"I would back our team to be respectful as much as any anyone in the game.
"Obviously they're young and in the heat of battle they might do things that they might learn from. That's what it's all about."
Australian Associated Press