If a week is a long time in politics then a year in rugby must feel like an eternity.
Twelve months ago - give or take a few weeks - Mark Hammett was preparing for his first season as coach of the Hurricanes, a Super Rugby franchise known for their flash, brilliant and audacious backline play rather than the number of trophies in their cabinet.
From the glory days of Christian Cullen, Tana Umaga and Jonah Lomu in the late 1990s and early 2000s to the slick moves of Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Cory Jane in 2010, the Hurricanes knew how to entertain the crowds.
A lone Super Rugby final appearance, where they lost to the Crusaders in 2006, was their best finish, but they also played in six semifinals.
For many years their slogan was "Expect the Unexpected'' - but not even Nostradamus would have picked what would transpire during the past year.
Hammett decided he wouldn't renew the contracts of veteran hooker and captain Andrew Hore or Nonu who was arguably the face of the franchise for the better part of the past seven years.
The team finished ninth in this year's Super Rugby competition and an exodus of players, including current or former All Blacks Neemia Tialata, John Schwalger, Hosea Gear, Aaron Cruden and Piri Weepu, took place.
An aging Rodney So'oialo, a veteran of 62 tests for the All Blacks, also departed after he didn't feature in the 2011 campaign due to injury.
Coming in to the fill the gaping holes for 2012 are a collection of Wellington rookies, a sprinkling of promising Taranaki players and others who haven't been able to establish themselves elsewhere.
On paper the Hurricanes look the weakest squad of the New Zealand franchises, but despite the fact nobody will expect them to do well next year, Hammett said he didn't feel any more external pressure than normal.
"It makes no difference. If you want to succeed at the highest level, whether it's in coaching, management or playing, you are always pushing your standards so you naturally put your own pressure on yourself,'' he said a pre-season training this week.
Hurricanes fans are passionate people - as Hammett has acknowledged - and he copped plenty of flak, whether on the streets, in the media or on social media networks, following his choice to axe Nonu and Hore.
But now he has had some time to digest what has gone on, does he think it made him a stronger person?
"That's a good question ... I'm deadset that we've got a really, really good team and we've got a team of character, hard workers, people that are really prepared to give more than they want to receive back. And, while this year we are really going to have to fight harder than we ever have, I'm excited about the group and my expectation is very high, Maybe others' isn't, but ours is.''
For all the criticism Hammett has received, he remains friendly. He always calls you by your first name - an undervalued trait - and you can tell he is genuinely passionate about rugby.
When the Hurricanes named their squad in November, Hammett, the former Crusaders assistant coach and All Blacks hooker, used variations of the word "excitement'' more times than you could count.
Here he goes again.
"It'd be nice to crystal-ball gaze and see what is going to happen. But I tell you what, I'm pretty excited about the group and hopefully we are talking on the other side of Christmas, mid-competition, end of the competition and we are saying this crowd's gone well and a big part of it is because of what they are doing now.''
Maybe that enthusiasm is what the side needs and Hammett pledged to the fans that his young bucks wouldn't lack in fight and determination.
"A realistic expectation is that we either win the game or die trying and we expect our fans, our supporters and us as coaches and management to see that. So, how hard they work now, the evidence is on the other side of Christmas. So that's why there's not a heck of a lot of fun at this time of year. But we are not going to apologise for that. You've got to earn your fun stripes. I suppose that's what this part of the year is about.''
This part of the year is also about giving and receiving, so what does Hammett want on December 25?
"What am I going to get for Christmas? ... I'm not quite sure, but if got one [present], I'd like lots of wins next year. That'd be great.''