What starts with a random question will descend into a sad sop story.
First, the question: Who is best player not attending this Rugby World Cup?
This poser doesn't solely cover those not selected. Rather consider those missing through injury, and even those retired from international duties who could still make an impression.
Take your pick, possibilities are extensive.
From a New Zealand perspective alone there's no shortage of candidates.
Luke Jacobson's flared up concussion is a cruel blow for the 22-year-old prospect before the opening match, though it is pleasing such symptoms are now being identified and treated with the proper due care.
What a shame we are robbed of the chance to witness Damian McKenzie's lethal line-breaking, ball-playing threats unleashed on Japan's hard and fast tracks. These are just the conditions where he would be expected to thrive.
Starting at fullback or off the bench, McKenzie would have added another dimension to the All Blacks' dual playmaker plans.
Ngani Laumape feeling the squeeze from the immensely competitive four midfield spots has been well canvassed. So, too, the axing of All Blacks centurion Owen Franks which generated widespread surprise throughout the rugby world.
The mutual decision to give Liam Squire on-going space to continue managing his mental health leaves the brutal blindside flanker in the absent category too.
After launching his Super Rugby return with the Blues this season, what impact could evergreen 37-year-old Ma'a Nonu have made in Japan?
Dan Carter is, perhaps, too far removed from the test arena, having recently recovered from neck surgery. These days Carter and Richie McCaw are busy meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland but both experienced minds would be welcomed by many test nations.
If you ever needed one bloke to knock over a match-winning kick in a World Cup final, Carter would sit near the top of the queue.
Elsewhere in the world there is Springboks wing Aphiwe Dyantyi, last year's breakthrough player of the year and a finisher of extreme quality now facing a four-year ban after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Welsh and Lions No 8 Taulupe Faletau, Irish flankers Dan Leavy and Sean O'Brien and former Auckland turned Wales playmaker Gareth Anscombe are other leading figures ruled out by injury.
French lock Felix Lambey, powerful Pumas loose forward Facundo Isa and much-hyped England first five-eighth Danny Cipriani were all controversial omissions.
Then there is the group headlined by Charles Piutau, Steven Luatua, Lima Sopoaga and company; those capped by the All Blacks and other nations but now confined to club rugby after opting to cash in abroad.
Yet there's one name that ranks above them all.
Israel Folau. Yeah, that guy.
From soaring high to ostracized figure with the click of a social media post.
Personally I don't feel great sympathy for Folau.
Putting religion to one side, he repeatedly contravened agreements with his employer and eventually paid the ultimate price by detonating his career on the eve of rugby's global showpiece.
While Folau's legal fight with Australian Rugby drags on, from a pure rugby standpoint the World Cup will be a poorer product for the loss of his brilliant aerial and attacking skill that also shone in the NRL and AFL arenas.
Some may argue the Wallabies have moved on and lost little after their dominant victory over the All Blacks in Perth but the following week Kurtley Beale's limitations at fullback were clear.
Beale was superb when the Wallabies savoured their front-foot platform but when the heat comes on, as it did at Eden Park, his flighty tendencies often return.
Dane Haylett-Petty and Adam Ashley-Cooper are other safe fullback options for the Wallabies but none compare to Folau. You simply don't replace someone of his influence.
No team does.
After all the headlines and hurtful cries, it's easy to forget Folau has played 73 tests and developed into a world-class rugby talent.
Most players gear careers to peak for the World Cup and while others will miss this pinnacle event due to selection, injury and drug convictions the saddest part of the Folau story is he did it to himself through the singled-minded belief he needed to spread harmful messages.
McKenzie and Jacobson are young enough to take solace from setting sights on a tilt at another World Cup four years from now.
Folau's 2015 World Cup will, unfortunately, be his last.