1. A fitting finale…
The final two weeks of the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season provided Kiwi fans with the climax to the competition they would have wanted.
A pair of cracking semifinals, both played in this timezone, where contrasting victories set up a dream decider that had its charms, if never quite reaching prematch expectations.
And for many it would have been rather easy to ignore about an underwhelming round robin when it was followed by a very-whelming playoffs - although points were lost for the one-sided quarter-finals that showed the folly of an eight-team finals format.
The Crusaders' backs-to-the-wall triumph over the Chiefs and the Blues' escape against the Brumbies were compelling viewing, and even if the final ended in predictable break-dancing fashion, the last fortnight will be what lingers in the memory from this season.
2. …saving a stuttering start
On the other hand, perhaps it's not a great sign if the majority of the competition can be so easily forgotten.
The much-maligned eight-team playoffs can assume much of the blame for any early-season malaise, with an open invitation to the finals removing one quality all top-level sport needs: jeopardy.
But it's also partly the way we - along with plenty of other codes in plenty of other nations - structure sport. No one in New Zealand would accept the league format favoured by football competitions throughout the globe, but there's no denying it adds impact to every week.
Some of the duller weeks in this Super Rugby season were out of the competition's control and (hopefully) won't be an issue next year. With the false starts in the bubble and the crowd restrictions that followed, that bland beginning was hard to shake.
But any competition that excludes only a third of its teams from the post-season will always struggle to captivate mid-season.
3. Expansion increases interest
Twelve teams does seem just about the right number for Super Rugby, though. (Perhaps we could rename it…Super 12?) And the positive additions of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua will be even more additive once they can play half their matches in front of home fans.
Of course, this being Super Rugby, we can't get too excited about a successful expansion before the rumblings begin about another format change.
This one, from Rugby Australia, does seem a tad drastic: the Aussie sides taking their ball and going home, as RA chairman Hamish McClennan last week proposed, would benefit no one.
That's especially true when the Australians, for once, proved almost to be worthy partners, with the Brumbies one leaping prop away from beating the Blues and seizing the honour of being swept aside by the Crusaders in the final.
The Aussie teams can build on this season, if their governing body lets them, and the new Pacific teams will only improve. This appears a format worth fighting for.
4. Crunch time
Did rugby games use to take two hours? Or, like the frog in the boiling pot, did the length of games gradually and unnoticeably increase until we were all being cooked alive one scrum reset at a time?
Because it seems routine now for 80 minutes of rugby to be stretched into 120 minutes of content, a bloat that has afflicted many TV shows in the streaming era.
We can't complain about a game being stopped for TMO checks on head contact - rugby must become safer and punitively teaching players better tackling techniques is a sensible way of doing so.
We can, however, most definitely complain when those TMO checks lead to far more cards than they do HIAs, as we saw in the semifinals and final.
Punishing the perpetrator while ignoring the victim somewhat muddles the safety message, but there's a simple solution: one acronym should automatically result in the other.
As for the many other stoppages that stretch game duration and test audience attention, much like the rinse-and-repeat cycle of a set piece followed by a penalty followed by a set piece, there's no quick way out of this.
5. There's always next year
Now we've all learned to live and die with the virus, the End of Covid (lol) should see many of this year's missteps avoided next season.
More games in Fiji - and to a lesser extent Mt Smart Stadium - will offer explosions of colour and joy that dreary winter nights in New Zealand will never match, and playing a legitimate home-and-away schedule will make both new teams harder to beat.
It's also a Rugby World Cup year, meaning our best players will be scrapping every week to earn their place on the plane to France.
Wait, what's that? Literally the opposite will be true and our best players will be given regular weeks off since their place on the plane to France is already secure? Oh. Never mind, then.
Regardless of getting marks deducted for that, the next season of Super Rugby is well placed to improve on this year's passing grade. Then we just have to hope Rugby Australia doesn't rip up the test.