The squad was ageing, they had lost their last eight matches of the previous campaign, endured their worst placing (sixth) since 1996 and had, inexplicably, been dumped out of the play-offs at home to Catalans Dragons.
There had to be an influx of fresh blood, surely?
However, England winger Ryan Hall never for one moment doubted chief executive Gary Hetherington’s thinking or the plans of his head coach Brian McDermott.
As it stands, nine months on, Leeds are just 80 minutes away from becoming the first side in the West Yorkshire club’s 145-year history to win the treble.
Let us be honest, we all know what that little-known National Rugby League player Cuthbertson has achieved.
Ahead of Saturday’s First Utility Super League Grand Final with Wigan Warriors, as Rhinos aim for a seventh title of the summer era, Hall admitted: “We have got a smart person pulling the strings at the top.
“He (Hetherington) has picked a championship-winning squad six different years and he is good at what he does.
“If he has chosen that squad to go forward with, we as players need to believe in it and that’s what we’ve done.
“It starts with those two (Hetherington and McDermott). Back in November, they dictated to everyone how they wanted us to play and what they wanted us to do, with the ball and without it. Then it’s down to the boys to buy into that. It has worked wonders.”
McDermott, of course, won ‘Coach of the Year’ on Monday, having led Leeds to successive Challenge Cup wins and a first League Leaders’ Shield since 2009.
Cuthbertson, the ball-handling prop, was voted the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association’s ‘Player of the Year’ and was on the shortlist for ‘Steve Prescott Man of Steel’, the prestigious award eventually claimed by Leeds colleague Zak Hardaker.
Each is a worthy recipient and Hall, for his part, is not shocked in the slightest by how they and Leeds have advanced this term.
“We aren’t really bothered about what other people think,” said the 27-year-old, who is eyeing his fifth Grand Final win.
“We have that inner belief and I am not surprised at all.
“I have been with pretty much this group, with some additions and losses over the years, when we’ve won it in the past.
“I am not surprised we are back in the final again and I am not taken aback by how we’ll we’ve done – no way.”
Saturday is Leeds’ first appearance in the Manchester showpiece since 2012, the campaign which saw them incredibly claim a fifth championship in just six years.
Hall said: “It has been a while since we’ve been there.
“It’s three years since we were last at Old Trafford and that’s the longest gap since I’ve been a Leeds player.
“It feels really good to be going back there again. It is just like the first time, which was 2008 for me.
“It brings back a few memories from that year and it’s just as exciting now.”
Hall’s last-second try at Huddersfield Giants which secured the League Leaders’ Shield was his 200th in Leeds colours.
He added another to allow Kevin Sinfield’s conversion to edge them in front of last Friday’s Titanic semi-final win against St Helens and has 22 in 30 games this season.
It is a mark of how stellar the wingers are in Super League, however, that the Leeds-born player did not earn selection in the Dream Team, Wigan’s Joe Burgess and Huddersfield’s Jermaine McGillvary pipping him.
Both those will be challenging Hall for a place in the England side against New Zealand next month and he conceded: “There’s been games when I have played well and others when I haven’t this year.
“There doesn’t seem to be any pattern at the moment; I can play well some weeks and shocking the week after.
“It is hard to read, but I am happy where I am at the moment.
“I am in a Grand Final, I’ve won the League Leaders’ Shield and I scored a try to get us back to Old Trafford, so I can’t say I am too disappointed with how this year’s done.
“I always say the main thing is the team.
“If I score tries to help the team win, I am happy and I’ve done that the last two weeks.”