The veteran core of the Giants has come to expect nothing less than being perennial Super Bowl contenders. This mindset is conveyed to rookies and newly signed free agents as soon as they officially become Giants.

So the businesslike atmosphere that permeated their locker room at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night following a disconcerting 24-21 overtime loss to the Jets was expected. While there was no sign of alarm from the players or head coach Tom Coughlin, there was a warranted collective sense of urgency with the Sept. 8 season opener versus the Dallas Cowboys in Texas rapidly approaching.

“What happened tonight was we fought like heck throughout the entire game on defense and on special teams,” said Coughlin. “We really didn’t have anything to help us on the offensive side of the ball … That’s my main concern.”

Indeed, the defense showed signs of improvement—albeit against the Jets’ foundering offense—after it had revealed troubling flaws in the first two preseason games.

In contrast, the Giants’ offense was completely out of rhythm, in large part due to key absences up front. Left guard David Diehl will be out at least five weeks recovering from right thumb surgery, and a right knee injury prevented steady center David Baas from suiting up against the Jets.

Furthermore, wide receiver Victor Cruz was sidelined due to a heel injury sustained against the Indianapolis Colts in the second preseason game. And his pass-catching partner, receiver Hakeem Nicks, is still working himself back into form following a groin injury he suffered during the first week of training camp. Nicks said he anticipates the kinks being worked out by the time they face the Cowboys.

“I think once the season starts and … we’re going with our full game plan, know [the starters are] going to focus on playing a whole game … I think we’re going to be fine,” Nicks forecasted.

“We’ve got to get better,” maintained quarterback Eli Manning. “We have a week of practice … to go out there and be sharper on offense and make sure we’re doing the right things.”

The Giants play their final preseason game tonight (Thursday) versus the New England Patriots.