St Helens coach Nathan Brown tipped Warrington to lift the Super League crown after they ended his side's five-match winning run with a 29-16 defeat at Langtree Park.
The Wolves, runners-up on their maiden Grand Final appearance last October, are guaranteed a top-two finish for the third year in a row and, although Huddersfield remain favourites to clinch the league leaders' shield, Tony Smith's men are Brown's fancy to triumph at Old Trafford.
"I think we got beat by the best side in the competition," Brown said. "Tony has been resting his players to give them a final tilt.
"They've a powerful squad and I still think they're the team to beat."
Brown, who is in his first season at Saints after leaving Huddersfield, had the chance to do his old club a favour but his side never fully recovered from an appalling start in which they trailed 22-0 after 24 minutes.
They produced a gritty fightback which brought tries for outside backs Jonny Lomax, Jordan Turner and Adam Swift but it was all in vain and they now need to win at Hull in their final match next Friday to ensure a fifth-place finish going into the play-offs.
"Physically Warrington were very good," Brown added. "They started the game with a lot of intent, with and without the ball.
"We had a 20-minute period when just didn't go with them. When we actually started to aim up a bit in defence and win some field position, we executed some plays and got ourselves back in the contest.
"There was a lot to like about what did but you can't excuse the way we started. We need to learn the lesson of not starting with the right intensity."
Smith brought back veterans Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Garreth Carvell and all three played key roles in the Wolves' triumph.
Briers' clever kicks created first-half tries for Joel Monaghan and Mick Higham and his drop goal on 65 minutes calmed Warrington's nerves as Saints fought back.
"I'm over the moon," Smith said. "That was as good a win as we've had for long, long time because we had to overcome a lot of adversity.
"I thought the half-time score flattered Saints because I thought we were outstanding in the first half but Saints came to the party and had a real crack in that second half when they got all the possession.
"It was a good, tough game and a big one for us tonight.
"Saints are coming good. They've struck some form and consistency and we're hoping to find that consistency ourselves going into the finals."
Although Warrington are just a point behind Huddersfield, Smith expects the Giants to win at least one of their last two games to clinch top spot, which he believes would be well deserved.
"You always end up where you deserve to be," he said. "The Giants have been consistent and we've faulted a couple of times.
"We would love to have finished first but you don't finish up where you don't deserve to be."