For almost two decades, everyone told the Blues to find a world class first-five as the primary means to revive their failing franchise.
They finally lured one in Beauden Barrett and look at them now: top of the table, seven points clear, playing free-flowing rugby that is rugged and imaginative all at once and enticing the legion of lost fans back to Eden Park.
It would be dismissive to the point of insulting the tenacity and vision of the back office to restructure the coaching team in 2019, to sort out the debilitating ownership set-up and realign the stakeholders to work with and not against each other, to attribute the current golden period to Barrett's presence alone.
But the work behind the scenes would not have revived the Blues by itself. There needed to be a general in the playing midst: a once-in-a-generation talent to spark belief, pull the strings and elevate the team to heights they previously thought beyond them.
And what Barrett has done this year is remind the world that he is that once-in-a-generation talent: a ridiculously gifted ball player and athlete who looks like he might be about to take his game to a higher level than the last great peak he reached in 2016 and 2017.
Back in his first purple period, Barrett's game was built exclusively on his running threat.
Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen used to joke in that period that they would spend all week building a gameplan only for Barrett to orchestrate something entirely unplanned and off script once he was in the thick of the action.
That's the player Barrett was back then – instinctive and predatory and fuelled with the confidence to back himself to run at defences.
In 2016 in particular, the All Blacks were the greatest pass and catch team the game had seen. No one knew whether Barrett had a tactical kicking game or traditional game management skills, because he never needed to use them.
Instead, he just ran and ran and defences split and fell apart in decidedly short order, seemingly incapable of closing him down even though they appeared to know where he was going.
Barrett played in a way no first-five ever had. Not even the free-spirited Barry John or Mark Ella had the same propensity to rely so exclusively on their speed, agility and vision.
The All Blacks that year were averaging 43 points a game – and that was against heavyweights such as South Africa, Australia, Wales and France.
What we saw was a play-maker who believed in the impossible – rugby without restraint or pre-conception and it was no wonder the rest of the world reached the end of that year and decided to give up creating any kind of attack game and instead focus exclusively on building defensive walls.
The global backlash to Barrett's brilliance was severe. By 2019, every team bar New Zealand and Japan turned up at the World Cup with precisely no desire to play with the ball.
The international game was largely dominated by coaches whose only thought was to stop players like Barrett having any room or any time to do anything.
It was effective, but it was also a little heart-breaking to see the blunts dominant the game, while the sharps stood around, lost and virtually redundant.
But the last few weeks of Super Rugby have hinted that a new era may be soon upon us. The clock could be rolled back and we may be witnessing the second coming of Barrett whose old magic has been visible again.
He's rediscovered that ability to assess in a microsecond where a defensive line may be weak and there is not a hint of his legs having lost any of their speed or acceleration and whatever the All Blacks may be thinking about in regard to their tactical approach to 2022, maybe they don't need to do much more than get the ball into Barrett's hands and leave it at that.
Such a simple brief has worked before and it can work again. The Blues are proving that.
Their rugby is not loose or wild, but it does appear to be largely instinctive. They don't appear to be trying to force Barrett into following a rigid blueprint or forcing him to conform to set rules about when to kick, when to run and when to pass and by trusting him, not over coaching him, the Blues attack game is flowing.
Arguably such freedom would be dangerous in the hands of any other No 10, but Barrett, as he's reminding everyone, is not any other No 10.