The magga, then, is not a ‘path’ as a series of steps, but a particular way of approach, a way of operating, an orientation that is fully equipped only when it has eight factors. It can then do its work of perfecting noble sīla, then noble samādhi and then noble paññā.

… the Noble Eight-factored Magga is neither the general practice of Buddhism, including ordinary levels of samatha and vipassanā meditation, nor, as in the developed Abhidhamma-cum-commentarial view, only the instant prior to stream-entry. It is a specific eight-factored way of approach, or skilful method that can arise when the mind is free of the five hindrances, especially during a sermon on the four ariya-saccas or when there is samatha and strong vipassanā into the three marks