Not since 1980 with Manawatu has a union outside the "big five" won the national provincial championship top title.
That will all change tonight when either home team and top qualifiers Taranaki or the young upstarts Tasman - in just their ninth season of existence - clash at New Plymouth's Yarrow Stadium.
Both sides have maintained settled squads, and the good news for Taranaki is that second five Charlie Ngatai, recently named the Maori All Blacks' captain, is clear to play after being a late scratching for the 49-30 extra-time win over Auckland in last weekend's semifinal.
Taranaki have no less than six (five of them backs) in that Maori team, including both halfbacks. That might not seem surprising given that Colin Cooper is coach of both the Maori and Taranaki, but all have played well during this ITM Cup.
Even the likes of tighthead prop Angus Ta'avao have played above themselves during the campaign, and the move from Auckland has been a boon for his stagnating career.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the reason Taranaki is hosting this Premiership final is that they stole a 31-30 victory in Nelson last month, thanks to a brilliant 55m solo try by wing Waisake Naholo, now signed to the Highlanders. It was a game Tasman let slip through their grasp, when they failed to kick the ball out in their search for a bonus point. They forgot about the win in the heat of battle, and Taranaki assistant coach Leo Crowley was not backward in reminding the Makos of their folly in the media yesterday.
Taranaki have been consistent throughout 2014, and in centre Seta Tamanivalu, jointly named Taranaki player of the year with lock James Broadhurst on Thursday night, they have one of the ITM Cup's most damaging attackers. He carved up Auckland, especially in the critical extra time period. Some may say that extra 20 minutes will have sapped Taranaki's energy - captain James Marshall admitted he slept most of the next day - but Cooper is too canny a coach to have made too many physical demands on his men this week.
Tasman were taking no chances with their preparation, flying to New Plymouth on Thursday night.
Tasman rolled a Canterbury outfit in decline, 23-6, in the semifinal, without even having to play their best rugby. Their personnel would suggest they have the nous and talent to take the honours tonight, if they can shut down Taranaki's areas of strength.
Victory tonight would make all the early growing pains from 2006 (they were on the brink of being tossed out of the competition in 2009) worthwhile, and erase memories of an often bitter Nelson Bays-Marlborough power struggle. In coach Kieran Keane, an All Black out of Canterbury but a Tasman man to his bootlaces, like his offsider Leon MacDonald, they have two astute tacticians.
The referee is New Zealand's top whistler Glen Jackson.
In the first of two Heartland Championship finals, the feel-good story of Buller reaches its climax today in Westport.
The home side, playing their first Meads Cup final, host defending champions Mid Canterbury. Buller have gone unbeaten through 2014, and will be favourites against the Hammers, third-placed qualifiers.
Tomorrow's Lochore Cup final in Oamaru pits two of Heartland rugby's heavyweights - North Otago's Old Golds against the Butcher Boys from Wanganui.