The Nationals have absorbed more pain in the bush than the Liberals in the city, with some regional MPs believing the government's controversial stadiums policy is to blame, while others think the problem runs far deeper.
The Nats suffered massive swings against them across the state, losing two seats - Barwon and Murray - to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.
The party failed to win back Ballina from the Greens, who extended their margin in the north coast seat, and watched big margins erode in Upper Hunter and Dubbo. Lismore could also fall.
Some Nationals believe Premier Gladys Berejiklian's policy to knock down and rebuild Allianz Stadium in eastern Sydney is to blame.
"The stadiums issue resonated outside of Sydney more even than it did in Sydney," a Nationals MP told AAP on Sunday morning after the coalition was returned to government.
"Where you've got an iconic issue like that, and we haven't stood up against it, it's a real problem for us.
"It's the 'them and us' sort of thing that impacts in regional areas and we're seen to be complicit."
The MP said the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull also hurt their vote.
"There's no doubt that our position was weakened by the instability in Canberra," they said.
Another Nationals MP said the party lost Barwon because the former member, Kevin Humphries, had been absent from the electorate for most of his tenure.
"The problem in Barwon was that you had a local member in Kevin Humphries that never lived in the electorate, never," they said.
"It covers 44 per cent of the state and the bloke never lived in it, that's a pretty fair achievement on its own."
Yet another Nat said the party may have been trying to be too many things in too many different electorates that shared little in common.
"We're fighting the Greens on one hand, we're fighting the Shooters west of the Great Dividing Range on completely different issues," the senior Nationals source told AAP.
"If we go through on one issue, then we potentially hurt the other one."
"It's a case of do we please some and piss off others or do we try and please everyone and please no one."
NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro said he was sad to see his party lose seats and suffer swings against MPs but he noted the coalition did get over the line.
"Yes, there are losses, yes, it hurts, I hate seeing colleagues lose their jobs, but we are in government and that's the main game," Mr Barilaro told reporters on Sunday.
Another Nationals MP said the party wasn't able to counter the Shooters strategy of inciting anger over the drought and stadiums.
"In all their campaign and marketing they've not offered positive solutions, they've just really picked at those scabs and tried to make political mileage," they told AAP.
The stadiums issue had resonated with a community that was already downtrodden, they said.
"What would ordinarily probably not be a top of mind issue can really turn into something because people are already aggravated."
Mr Humphries has been contacted for comment.
Australian Associated Press