The time has come for the Blue Bombers to become the bullies of the CFL East.
And they can start by kicking sand in the faces of the winless Tiger-Cats here tonight -- then repeat the feat a week later -- before Hamilton completes its current transition from being the 98-pound weaklings to a contender.
Sure, the assignment is that much tougher because the Ticats have yet to win, the Bombers still have some injury woes and winning back-to-to back games is quite improbable.
But not impossible.
A legitimate Grey Cup contender overcomes those kinds of excuses and the Bombers can -- and should -- establish themselves as the Beasts of the East in the next two outings.
'COME OUT HUNGRY'
"We're ready to take that step," Winnipeg middle linebacker Barrin Simpson declared. "The key is to continue to get better. We definitely have the talent to take it to the next level to get to the Cup. But week in and week out, we've got to get better and we've got to win games. It don't matter how you win the games, whether you start fast or slow. The key is winning the ball game.
"They're going to come out hungry and that's good for us because we need to be hungry to win at home. We need to keep rolling in the wins. Our first goal is to win the East so we need to do that, week in and week out, especially at home. It's going to be a tough game. They're going to come in here fired up, trying to get that first win and try to turn it around."
The Bombers have already beaten the Montreal Alouettes -- last year's Cup finalists -- twice this season and should be ready to flex their muscles.
"We can start (tonight)," said Bomber defensive tackle Doug Brown. "We can build off what we did in Montreal a little bit in keeping other teams to under 20 points. If we can do that for the third time in a row, that would be Step 1 for our defence in terms of solidifying any credibility we have.
"Holding teams to less than 20 should put us into an advantageous kind of perspective to win."
But Brown added a voice of caution.
"So far, the thing that has struck me about this team is that week in, week out, we're not really sure what we're going to get in terms that we've been starting slow," he said. "In some games, we haven't been where we need to be defensively and in other games, we have. So, I'd like to see a string of us being a lot more together in terms of being consistent before I'd go and make any sort of emphatic statement."
The Bombers still need to put all three phases of the game together over a full 60 minutes, said Bomber head coach Doug Berry.
"We're getting to the point where I think we're pretty good," he said earlier this week. "If we ever get to the point where I feel we're losing it, then it's time for concern. But right now, I feel we're getting better each week."
Beating the 'Cats back-to-back would not only translate into a 4-1-1 record, it would give the Bombers a nine-point lead on Hamilton in the East.
"We'd be sitting great," Simpson concurred. "That's why we're focusing in so much. We'd be in a great position going into the B.C. game (Aug. 10) but we need to take it one game at a time. We need to win this first one at home, then we'll try to take care of them at their house."
Now, we're not suggesting for a moment that taming the rapidly-improving 'Cats will be a cakewalk. But based on what we've seen thus far, the Bombers are still the superior side and contenders conquer when they are expected to conquer.