It has taken 23 years to climb once more to the top of the mountain - tonight, Northland's Taniwha team have a chance to lift the Mitre 10 Championship title.
Those who conquered the Second Division - as it was then - in 1997 reckon this year's challengers have it in them to beat Hawke's Bay when the teams meet in Napier this evening.
That support comes from Hayden Taylor, Doug Te Puni, and Joeli Veitayaki, all part of the title-winning 1997 Northland team that thumped Central Vikings 63-10 all those years ago.
The triumvirate played against big name All Blacks Christian Cullen, Stephen Bachop, Roger Randle, and their inspirational captain Mark "Bull" Allen.
"In the 1997 final, no one believed in us but we believed in ourselves and that's what this team needs to do," Veitayaki said of the crowning match played at the then-Lowe Walker Park, now Semenoff Stadium.
Veitayaki, who played prop in that final, said this year's team was learning from their past mistakes and worked to do better every game.
"They're a young team but they've been playing together for a while now and they play for their province with all their heart. This team can win on Friday if they believe in themselves and keep doing what they've been doing."
Hayden Taylor played fullback for the title-winning Northland team and said the current squad has what it took to win tonight.
"Finals footy is always 50/50 and it's always hard to play down there but Northland players are enjoying their footy and have got into the habit of winning and the more you win, the more you're used to it."
Taylor said the current team had - like the 1997 champs - been playing together for two to three years with much-needed Super Rugby experience.
Doug Te Puni played alongside Taylor and will be at McLean Park this evening to watch the final.
He's confident the Taniwha can cause a boilover, saying the team has players who could rise to the challenge.
"They are playing for each other, have provincial pride and a number of players are playing in Super Rugby. They are starting to fiddle with the big boys... just the professionalism coming into the team," the Whangārei police officer said.
Te Puni said back in 1997, the team believed it had every chance to win irrespective of who the opponents were.
Northland Rugby Union chief executive Cameron Bell urged Taniwha supporters to get behind the team.
The designated area at McLean Park for Northland fans to congregate was the Harris Stand, as close to the middle section as possible. Bell said he'd like to see as many supporters at the venue as possible.
"Waiting in Napier is a very good Hawke's Bay team with strong local support. No one in the Northland camp thinks Hawke's Bay are unbeatable and we are travelling to win — not make up the numbers. This is where we seek your help with supporting our Taniwha."
Bell offered thanks to Northland supporters who travelled to last weekend's semifinal in Dunedin where they had made themselves heard above the host's.
Taniwha fans who cannot make it to Napier can check out the game information page on www.taniwha.co.nz and/or post a message of support there or email a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We look forward to either seeing you in Napier or simply lending your support – it will be appreciated either way. Our Taniwha will fight to win for Northland as much as they will for themselves," Bell said.