Now that the weather has turned and the Crusaders have all but secured home passage through the play-offs, the defending champions are going to secure a third straight title.
There's no sure thing in sport but this is as close as it gets. The Crusaders have made themselves just about invincible in Christchurch.
Their makeshift ground is barely fit for purpose and long past its intended life-span, but the Crusaders have made it their home; made it a place they love and everyone else hates and they haven't lost there in Super Rugby since Scott Robertson took over as coach in 2017.
The Sharks managed to bravely earn a draw in Christchurch a few weeks ago, but that was against a weakened Crusaders' team and came with a touch of mischievousness at scrum time that referee Brendon Pickerill was naïve enough to be sucked in by.
Whatever hint of vulnerability was on view against the Sharks won't be seen again and in the next six weeks the Crusaders will do what they do, which is to deliver composed, controlled, aggressive rugby that is built on a foundation of excellent core skills, utter conviction and understanding of their plan and an unmatched desire to play for one another.
The competition's most successful team will again differentiate themselves from the rest, leave everyone in awe at the dynasty they have built and maintained and inevitably a round of analysis will begin on what is at the core of their success.
There's obviously multiple reasons the Crusaders continue to dominate Super Rugby but where everything starts is with their recruitment. Their identification of talent is in a different league.
The Crusaders are not a home-grown team. When Glasgow Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967, they did so with a team of players who were born within walking distance of the club's home ground.
This is not the Crusaders. The bond which their players have with the club, the loyalty they show and the uniform characteristics they display drive this sense of their team having risen from the Canterbury Plains, but it is an illusion.
The Crusaders are brilliant importers, instinctively knowing how to look at the best schoolboy talent and determine whether they have the right qualities to thrive in the professional game.
Surprise selections? Hansen's contenders for World Cup
Surprise inclusion as All Blacks stars set for Super Rugby return
The rest of the country seems to get a little fixated about athletic qualities - scrapping to recruit the biggest, strongest and fastest.
The Crusaders, though, appear to have a different selection template and place more emphasis on work ethic and character and buy into the notion that individuals who are grounded, disciplined and worldly are going to be better long-term bets.
They don't get lucky with their recruitment – they get smart and they get pro-active. More than half their regular team have been brought in from outside the region.
Codie Taylor and Sam Whitelock were both recruited from school in Feilding. Scott Barrett was pulled out of Taranaki, Jordan Taufua and Kieran Read from South Auckland.
But there are two players who best illustrate the rugby intelligence contained within the Crusaders recruitment machine. They are Jack Goodhue and Braydon Ennor.
The Northland-born and raised Goodhue boarded at Mount Albert Grammar School but was never able to convince the Blues he had what they were looking for.
He was operating in a midfield world of bigger more explosive athletes and his qualities of supremely good decision-making and impenetrable defence didn't earn the recognition they deserved.
Ennor, who excelled academically and all-round at St Kentigern College, was perhaps unfortunate to be in the same year group as Rieko Ioane.
The Blues, rightly made sure they signed Ioane, but the smarter play would have been to have signed them both.
There's some truth to the Blues' constant lament that their territory is crawling with scouts from outside the region and indeed from different codes, making it difficult for them to recruit the young players they want.
There's also some truth that many of the best players in the Auckland 1A competition are not from the city, and have been drafted into schools to board and/or on scholarships.
But none of this should deflect from the fact that the Crusaders continuously manage to do what the Blues don't and identify and lure the best young players.
They also have this uncanny knack of rejuvenating older players rejected by other clubs.
Look at Bryn Hall. Ousted by the Blues when they saw Sam Nock as their future, Hall is now on the edge of the All Blacks' radar and a critical part of the Crusaders' machinery.
Mitch Hunt was unwanted after a year in Auckland and he's now one of the best back-up No 10s in the country – a player who has delivered for the Crusaders in the biggest games.
And Sevu Reece, discarded by the Chiefs, has been a revelation this season for the Crusaders.
The factory is in Christchurch and all the finishing work is done there, but the raw materials are mostly sourced from around the country and if the Crusaders are to be dethroned, the rest of New Zealand's Super Rugby clubs need to think more deeply about their recruitment strategies.