Usually, a season review is relatively straightforward. You look at the number of games a team won compared to how many they lost, measure that against preseason expectations, throw in their standout players and most eye-catching performances and come up with an assessment of how their campaign has played out.
But the 2021/22 Wellington Phoenix season can't be compartmentalised in that way. It's simply had too many layers, too many outrageous storylines, too many peaks and troughs to even start making sense of it.
How can a group of players who haven't slept in their own beds for two and a half seasons be one game away from the semifinals?
How do you begin to explain how a team that conceded more goals than any side in the competition still finished six points clear of their closest challenger for the last playoff spot?
How does a side that loses their skipper for a year and his influential midfield partner for nine games still do well enough to feature in the postseason?
Just about everyone has been injured. Almost everybody got Covid, some of them twice. Coach Ufuk Talay even had to sit out a couple of games, one of which ended with a Wellington winner seven minutes into added time.
Former captain Steven Taylor left just as the season was about to start. Fresh imports weren't recruited until January by which point the Phoenix were bottom of the ladder.
The side's four best attackers – Reno Piscopo, David Ball, Gary Hooper and Gael Sandoval – started only one game together all season. Ball has spent the last six weeks in a moon boot, only taking it off to have an enormous needle injected into his foot to enable him to play.
Attacker Jaushua Sotirio played a game at right wingback. Ben Waine – a centre forward – did the same, twice. Fullbacks Sam Sutton and Louis Fenton both spent time in midfield. Sandoval – a winger by trade – sat deep in the middle of the park.
An 18 year old defender with no A-League experience became a regular in the side. The best goalkeeper in the league got injured and was replaced by another teenager who saved three penalties in a Cup shootout against Melbourne City.
The Nix lost 6-0 and 5-0 in the space of three days in early April. They lost 4-0 twice to the side that eventually finished ninth.
They really have no right to be where they are, and yet they're still standing, still punching.
Every side faces setbacks and deals with adversity. But the Nix have taken more hits than Joseph Parker's first few professional opponents and gotten up off the canvas each time.
It speaks to a group of players and coaches who have simply found a way. Blow after blow was absorbed or deflected as they just concentrated on the next game. If they lost it, they moved onto the next one. If they lost that one, it was on to the next. They eventually won 12 games, more than enough to make the top six.
It's a triumph of resilience, spirit, and a steadfast refusal to be beaten down by their misfortune. Better teams didn't make the top six; they weren't tough enough. Wellington could never be accused of that.
And so, to the finals. Incredibly, Wellington might even be favourites against third-placed Western United, who they've beaten twice this season and six times in their last seven meetings.
Victory would feed them into a two-legged semifinal, the first match of which would be in Wellington on Wednesday evening. That might sound odd, but it's completely in keeping with this campaign. A midweek semifinal? Why not?
No one could have predicted the cards the Nix were dealt these last six months, and if they'd seen them in advance, would certainly not have anticipated the response.
And yet, here we are. Good luck picking what happens next.