The full-time siren had sounded on the Sunday night of the 25th of October last year. The Panthers had rushed home, but had fallen just short. Future Immortal Cameron Smith would have the perfect farewell.
As the dust settled, the majority of us started counting sleeps until the pair would meet again in the 2021 Grand Final. That idea was completely scuppered when the Rabbitohs caused one of the great boilovers in modern finals footy, downing the Panthers 16-10 in a shock Qualifying Final result.
Now, the Storm v Panthers sequel can't possibly happen in the decider year, but we'll have it this Saturday in a mouth-watering Preliminary Final.
It's the Grand Final rematch, and while it may be the best two teams, the Storm might actually be glad they’re not facing a team who broke their record winning run in Parramatta just a few weeks ago.
To the other side of the draw, South Sydney await Des Hasler's mercurial Sea Eagles.
Sometimes, the best gifts come badly wrapped. The Manly side were lapped by the Storm in week one. However, they’ll have left that match with lessons learned and with the comfort of knowing they can’t meet the two most fancied teams in the Storm and Panthers until Grand Final day – if they are to get there.
Recency bias is a term used that gives a greater importance to events that have just happened, and in my opinion, the Panthers are still in this competition up to their eyeballs.
I also don’t have any doubts that Tommy Turbo can still have a major say in how these finals turn out, despite being nullified by Bellamy’s Storm.
While some are pencilling in a Melbourne v South Sydney Grand Final, I think there’s plenty of water to go under the bridge until we’re close to announcing that.