The time has come to address the elephant in the Super Rugby room – assessing the transtasman title's stature, or lack thereof.
This year at least it will be considered second cab off the rank, sitting behind the Aotearoa 2.0 version in the trophy cabinet.
The presence of a full round robin for next year's touted 12-team competition, with the yet-to-be-confirmed inclusions of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua, will alter and hopefully elevate the transtasman status.
This year's competition – if we could call it that – was, however, infinitely weaker compared to the torrid New Zealand derby league.
Contests diminished, skill level dropped and the element of surprise so intrinsic to sport's allure near evaporated.
New Zealand teams won 23 of 25 matches to grossly expose depth issues prevalent within the Australian game.
While there's reason to believe the sum of Dave Rennie's Wallabies parts will challenge the All Blacks across three Bledisloe Cup tests in August and September, at Super Rugby Australia continues to make a case they only have resource to sustain three credible teams.
The Reds, thanks largely to a red card in their narrow win over the Chiefs, and Brumbies were the only Australian sides to taste victory against their Kiwi counterparts.
For the competitiveness of the opposition alone, the one-sided nature of the transtasman product undermines the title's prestige when compared with the Aotearoa equivalent.
In the circumstances, the absence of Scott Robertson's Crusaders does not, though, detract from the final at Eden Park this Saturday.
Sure, the Crusaders claimed the last five Super Rugby titles and won all its transtasman matches to finish level with the Blues and Highlanders, missing out on points differential after failing to defeat the Rebels by 33 or more.
Had Braydon Ennor not spilled the ball on his way to the line, the final may have been different but, in many ways, that error summed up the Crusaders' transtasman campaign.
If honesty prevails in reviews to follow, the Crusaders will admit not meeting their own standards. After leading 14-0 early against the Rebels they should have kicked on to seal its place in the final - this but one in a string of missed opportunities.
There are no excuses for the Crusaders. If any side could feel somewhat aggrieved, it's the Chiefs; after having one match at home due to Melbourne's latest Covid-19 outbreak.
In the end, the Highlanders and Blues displayed superior consistency to fully earn their chance to contest the decider this weekend.
Whatever happens on Saturday the Crusaders will retain the mantle in New Zealand. To be the best you must beat the best, after all. Yet their supremacy undoubtedly loses some of its sheen, with performances in the transtasman competition lacking the same quality and ruthlessness.
Only in their 52-26 domination of the Reds - Super Rugby AU champions - in Brisbane did the Crusaders reach anywhere near their best.
One week after contesting their respective finals, the Crusaders were fortunate to escape with victory in their opening transtasman match in Christchurch after Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio missed a sideline conversion that would have secured a draw.
While the Crusaders attack averaged 45 points per game and it scored a competition-high 35 tries, the their defence was poor. They conceded 18 tries – the same number in an Aotearoa season that was three matches longer.
On reflection, the Crusaders also picked the wrong match to rotate several starting All Blacks. The Waratahs are clearly the worst Australian team and yet Robertson elected to rest Richie Mo'unga, Sam Whitelock, Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor and others against the plucky Force.
That match, when the Force stole the bonus point at the death, exposed depth issues in some areas and was yet another example of execution gone wrong.
The Crusaders will return with vengeance next year, of that there is no doubt. For now, though, we are left to contemplate chinks in their armour. Perhaps a regression, even.
For the Highlanders and Blues, will the transtasman title carry the same weight as their last respective Super Rugby triumphs in 2015 (Highlanders) and 2003 (Blues)?
The short answer is no. A six-week stopgap does not compare to those fully-fledged editions.
Yet both teams would rightly treasure this year's title.
The Highlanders lost 13 players to injury this season and had to overcome head coach Tony Brown unexpectedly leaving for Japan before this campaign began. They also boast just one All Black; the world-class Aaron Smith. Others, such as the Blues, used nine in this competition.
The Blues, following an underwhelming Aotearoa effort where the side missed the final, have shown a sense of resilience and collective consistency not evident in almost two decades.
Yet that will mean little if they don't finish the job.
The transtasman title might not be parade-down-Queen-Street worthy; but after an 18-year drought, the Blues will take silverware anyway it comes as they seek to build belief for years to come.