Sixteen years ago, the party at Tony Brown's was unceremoniously spoiled by defeat.
But with the Highlanders having reached the Super Rugby final for just the second time in franchise history, Dunedin is gearing up for another epic celebration: a bender at Ben Smith's.
"I think it's still early days," Smith laughed at the suggestion of hosting duties. "If we get our ducks in a row, then everything could be looking good for Sunday. But we'll make sure we get the job done first."
Smith, Dunedin born and raised, the Highlanders' co-captain and only current Super Rugby centurion, will be a big part of ensuring his home town can exorcise the hurt of 1999.
The fullback's leadership has been vital for a team perhaps lacking that quality on paper, with Saturday night's showdown against the Hurricanes in Wellington easily ranking as the biggest game of many players' careers. Even Smith, who made both his Highlanders and All Blacks debut in 2009, counted the occasion as among his most anticipated.
"I'd rate it right up there in my rugby career," he said. "The Highlanders are a team that I'm really passionate about and I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to play in a final. I'm just really excited, along with the rest of the team, to get up there and to have a good crack, because we know we're up against a good Hurricanes team."
That much was obvious four weeks ago in Napier, when the Hurricanes blew away the Highlanders with an eight-tries-to-three thrashing. But an asterisk or two must be affixed to that result, given the visitors were missing their trio of All Blacks and the home side were playing to honour the memory of Jerry Collins.
The victory completed the Hurricanes' season sweep over the southern side and asked what his team would take from the two previous meetings and change Saturday night, Smith offered a simple reply.
"Hopefully the result will be different," he joked. "They've been playing some outstanding rugby and we've just got to adjust in the way we play. They're a dangerous team and they showed that last weekend, with how they used the ball and the width.
"The coaches have probably looked at those two games and looked at a few areas where we can improve. I'm sure both teams will make a few tweaks and it'll make for a pretty exciting game."
The Highlanders have made no tweaks to their starting XV, naming the same side that ran out in last week's semifinal win over the Waratahs, but they're planning to have plenty of tactical alterations. After peppering the Waratahs with a variety of kicks in Sydney, Jamie Joseph was unlikely to instruct his side to do likewise against such a fearsome counter-attacking opposition.
"We know the tactics we employed last week won't work against the Hurricanes," Smith said. "So it's just a matter of having a good look at them and getting our game plan sorted for this week."
The rest of the week has been spent bottling the excitement brimming within the squad and making sure it is unleashed at kick-off in Wellington. And Smith said he felt little need to rally the troops, with the whole franchise ready for a challenge that seemed a long way off as little as two years ago.
"The environment that's been set up over the last couple of years has really got this team humming," Smith said. "The players want to play for each other and we enjoy our rugby - you see that on the weekend and it'll be no different this week."
Highlanders team to play the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night:
Ben Smith (c), Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Richard Buckman, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu (c), James Lentjes, Elliot Dixon, Alex Ainley, Mark Reddish, Josh Hohneck, Liam Coltman, Brendon Edmonds.
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Ross Geldenhuys, Joe Wheeler, Shane Christie, Gareth Evans, Fumiaki Tanaka, Marty Banks.