There used to be a saying that when Auckland rugby is strong, All Black rugby is strong.
It dates back to when Auckland dominated the provincial rugby scene. Between 1976 and 2005 Auckland won the national provincial championship 15 times.
Ten of the All Black team that won the first rugby world cup in 1987 were from Auckland.
The Auckland-based Blues of the Super 12 won titles in 1996 and 1997.
But the Blues' last taste of Super glory was 18 years ago in 2003. Until Saturday, that is.
The 2021 edition withstood a fight-back from the Highlanders to claim the Super Rugby Transtasman final by 23 to 15 at Eden Park before a crowd of 35,000.
The title may be something of an oddity since the rugby season was split between two events - the tougher Super Rugby Aotearoa between the New Zealand sides, and the short championship with the Australians, which Kiwi teams dominated.
Saturday's game was a return to the rugged, bruising style of the all-Kiwi contests earlier in the year. Next year there is expected to be a 12-team competition format.
It has been a long drought that has been broken for the team, which represents the Auckland, North Harbour and Northland regions, their fans, and the city.
It seemed for years that no one could find the key to unlock that old winning formula. Various coaches including Pat Lam, Sir John Kirwan and Tana Umaga couldn't get them over the line. Some observers wondered if the city itself - too big and spread out, too lacking in some common vibe - was to blame.
The team often seemed to be improving only to slip back. Fans would eye the season with hope only for it to gradually deflate. Other teams, such as the Chiefs and Highlanders, seemed to be able to get more from lesser hyped players.
Between 2010 and 2020, all the other New Zealand sides got their names engraved as champions: The Crusaders three times, the Chiefs twice, the Highlanders and Hurricanes once each.
And the Crusaders, who have also won two Super Rugby Aotearoa titles, two Super 14 and five Super 12 championships, have been the benchmark for more than two decades.
They have also supplied a lot of All Blacks - including rugby greats Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, and Sam Whitelock - although the national team's two most recent world cup successes in 2011 and 2015 haven't coincided with the Canterbury team's Super victories.
Ironically, it has taken a former Crusader, Leon MacDonald, with Tom Coventry, Dan Halangahu, Umaga, and Ben Afeaki, to banish those losing blues.
The best thing for the Auckland region and even the rest of New Zealand is that it seems likely that the team can go on to more success. And it would be good to have other teams on the Crusaders' level.
The Blues have a group of young loose forwards who would be among the best in the country. They have a set of All Black props, the hefty bulk of captain Patrick Tuipulotu, the dashing boots of Rieko Ioane, and Beauden Barrett back for next year.
Depth in positions is a feature of the current team. So is size and physicality - qualities needed for when the All Blacks take on sides such as South Africa, England, France and Ireland in the next few years.
A number of Blues players wouldn't look out of place in a black jersey after the All Blacks squad is named tonight for tests next month against Tonga and Fiji.
Maybe it's nearly time to trot out that line again: When Auckland rugby is strong, All Black rugby is strong.