The big question following the Crusaders' championship victory over the Lions will inevitably settle on how much impact the red card shown to flanker Kwagga Smith had on the match.
In my mind, and this might surprise a few, it didn't make much difference at all.
Heading into this clash at Ellis Park, I felt the Crusaders were in a better space mentally and that they were certainly physically ready to do what they haven't done since 2008. This team is fitter than any Crusaders team I can remember and they were never going to let this one slip.
It's my opinion that, regardless of the red card to Smith, the bounce of the ball or the decisions made by the match officials, the Crusaders were always going to find a way to win.
The Lions are a very good second-half side, as they showed in their semifinal win over the Hurricanes, but for me there was a sense of inevitability about the Crusaders' victory, whether they were up against 14 men on the field or 20. Referee Jaco Peyper had no choice but to show Smith a red card. The correct decision was made.
The Crusaders were clinical, but they have shown that throughout the season. This side has a self belief and a ruthlessness which dictates that things get done when they need to get done.
The Lions showed vulnerability. They coughed ball up and made poor decisions at times. They turned down a kickable penalty which would have narrowed the gap to 12-6 and just didn't seem to have the right mindset to win what would have been their first title.
The big difference between the two sides heading into the match was how the Lions' players and coaches referred to their opportunity in the media. I heard a lot from skipper Jaco Kriel and coach Johan Ackermann that the result in the final wouldn't define their season as a team.
It's not an approach New Zealand rugby, and in particular the Crusaders, would take. The Lions approach was 'we have already achieved regardless of result'. The Crusaders' mentality is 'we will be judged by how we go in the final'. Second place for the Crusaders would have meant failure.
It was fitting that we had the competition's two best teams, both of whom had lost only once in the round-robin, fighting it out in front of a full and vibrant stadium.
In the aftermath, it was clear to me how close the Crusaders coaches Scott Robertson, Leon MacDonald, Jason Ryan and Brad Mooar are to their players. They were wearing trousers and dress shirts rather than a playing jersey, but they were part of the team - that was obvious during the celebrations.
Robertson and MacDonald have been there before, and were part of the Crusaders' foundation successes. They very much instilled a belief that was maybe missing, and they did it from within the team.