COUNTLESS theories have been put forward as to why Huddersfield's form has dipped so much in recent months.
Sunday's disappointing 29-12 setback at home to Castleford was the second defeat by Super League's basement side within a month, a fifth in succession and an 11th in 15 outings by Jon Sharp's side, who have fallen out of the Tetley's Super League play-off positions as a result.
Injuries have obviously taken a heavy toll on Sharp's small squad, with many key players absent at various stages.
For starters, there have only been a handful of occasions when first-choice half-back combination Brandon Costin and Stanley Gene have been in tandem (they both played last Sunday, but other absences forced Sharp to play Gene at loose-forward).
Both have spent a fair amount of time on the sidelines, as has Sharp's other leading playmaker Paul March, and when that happens, the team's attacking sharpness is blunted considerably.
It's also been a real slog in the forwards, with the news that props Eorl Crabtree and Mick Slicker are both likely to be out for the rest of the season the latest in a string of setbacks.
Another theory for the slump since the Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by St Helens is that too much emphasis is being placed on next season.
But it's a point of view which doesn't go down too well within the club.
As far as Sharp is concerned, the sole focus is on the remaining five fixtures in Super League IX, starting at Widnes tomorrow, and the continuing bid to pip Wakefield and Warrington to that final play-off place.
However, it is clear that plans for next season are advancing well - and that has to be good news.
The priority has to be the rest of this season and a first appearance in the play-offs, but clubs ignore preparations for 2005 at their peril.
At the end of that season, two clubs face the dreaded drop in order to accommodate both the National League I champions, if they meet the top-flight criteria, and the new French entrants from Perpignan.
With two out of 12 likely to go down, next season's top flight will be more fiercely contested than ever.
Therefore it's never been more important for clubs to strengthen, and the Giants have been in a position to do that.
With the threat of relegation this season having disappeared months ago, Huddersfield have had the luxury of scouring the transfer market for a considerable time.
As a result, they have already recruited three new men in Michael De Vere, Brad Drew and Chris Thorman, with the hope that others will be joining later in the year.
It's only last year and this that Huddersfield have been able to plan for the following campaign knowing it would be in Super League.
And hopefully, the forward-thinking will bear fruit next year.
Respected Aussie journalist Malcolm Andrews certainly thinks Huddersfield have acted wisely by signing centre De Vere and half-back or hooker Drew.
"De Vere could prove to be the finest value in years," he wrote in `League Express'.
"Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett thinks highly of him - and he is a wonderful judge of players.
"There have been few more dedicated players in the NRL than the 28-year-old.
"In his 162 games since making his senior debut in March 1997, De Vere has set a Broncos pointscoring record of 1,062 (64 tries and 403 goals).
"Indeed he is the only player to have topped 900 points in the club's 17-year history.
"He is one of those players who perform professionally with the minimum of fuss.
"It's only since he has been missing from the Brisbane side (after a knee operation) that everyone has realised what a major role he has played.
"I also have a sneaking suspicion Brad Drew will do well under British conditions.
"He is most dangerous when running from the rucks and setting up supports."