Northland's Mitre 10 Cup semifinal loss wasn't the storybook ending they and their fans were hoping for, but all signs point to an extended period of success ahead.
Heading to Wellington was always going to be a tough ask and although they led 14-6 at one point, the Lions had too much firepower and eventually ran out 49-21 winners.
However, when you look at the bigger picture, Northland are in a great position to build on their playoff finish in the years to come.
There was plenty to like in the early stages of the Wellington clash where, like the week before, they looked the hungrier side.
The forward pack, and in particular openside flanker Kara Pryor, immediately put Wellington on the back foot as they made their way up the field with relative ease.
Second five Jack Goodhue was also heavily involved as he made two plays in the lead up to the opening try. His second pass gave Pryor some room down the right wing before he offloaded back in to industrious wing Jordan Hyland for the five pointer.
Solomon Alaimalo also got across the line early as he continued another standout campaign.
However, Wellington proved too strong once they got their noses in front, crossing for six tries to Northland's three.
There were a lot of bright spots in the 2017 season for the Taniwha though.
A well fostered resolve defensively was a trademark of the side through the season as their increased experience became telling.
Northland have built a strong base predicated on hard work, defence and a bit of flair and should coach Derren Witcombe retain the bulk of the squad, there is no reason why they can't go further next season.
The return of the likes of cult figure Rene Ranger and budding star Jack Goodhue added firepower to a strong backline while Northland's scrum was arguably the best in the competition, giving Wellington plenty of worries in the semifinal.
Goodhue is in line to be heavily rewarded for classy Mitre 10 Cup and Super Rugby campaigns with an All Blacks call-up for their end of year tour.
His size and strength are valuable assets but it's his decision-making and distribution that could see him really flourish. He is a natural centre, one who offers something different to Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown.
Northlanders got to enjoy Ranger again before he heads to La Rochelle in France's top flight competition for the next two years.
The dreaded midfielder was imperious on attack and showed an array of underrated skills including deft grubbers and a knack for creating breakdown turnovers.
It wasn't the ending he and the Northland side were hoping for but a similar output next year will have them contending once again.
Wellington 49 (Wes Goosen 2, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Trent Renata, Tolu Fahamokioa, Regan Verney tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 pen, 5 con)
Northland 21 (Jordan Hyland, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam Nock tries, Dan Hawkins 2 con, Sam Nock con). HT: 16-14.