Wynne Gray remembers the last time the Highlanders and Hurricanes made a Super Rugby final.
Highlanders v Crusaders, 1999 (24-19 to Crusaders)
A photograph of sheep spelling out Go Otago was so striking it was reproduced in the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the Press in Christchurch had a dig at their beaten Highlanders rivals after the 1999 Super Rugby final when they delivered a front-page banner proclaiming "Party at Toddy's, pass it on".
That decider had an underlying party at Tony Brown's theme which was advocated for the semifinal but shelved when the draw meant the Highlanders had to travel to South Africa to beat the Stormers.
When the team arrived home for the final, they ran into a city brimful of rugby fever accompanied by a revival of the Brown theme. A bi-plane circled the city with that banner and while the game was a sellout and the theme was canned, the slogan took on a life of its own.
All the travel and expectation added up to massive pressure on the hosts while their Crusader rivals avoided the attention.
"I knew what would be waiting for them when they got home," Todd Blackadder recalled. "There would be thousands of people ready to meet them after the long flight back from South Africa and they would be trapped in all that hype while we could get on with it away from the spotlight."
The final was put back a day to allow the Highlanders more time to recover but it added another day to the already smothering hype.
From the welcoming pipe bands at Dunedin Airport to every person who had ever visited the Octagon, the pressure rose as they all wanted to share their rugby love with the Highlanders. The hype was unrelenting and tickets for the 41,500 capacity at Carisbrook sold rapidly.
The Highlanders had only a couple of light runs as coach Tony Gilbert and his staff tried to downplay the hysteria and get some energy back into the squad's tired frames.
They had a first half breeze and scored first through wing Brian Lima but the 14-9 advantage at halftime was not enough for any celebrations.
Daryl Gibson ran in an easy try before Afato So'oalo scored with a feint infield to check Lima then a 55m run with a chip and chase over a covering Jeff Wilson to score.
The Crusaders claimed successive titles with a 24-19 victory and the Highlanders were left to wait until today for their second showdown appearance.
Crusaders v Hurricanes, 2006 (19-12 to Crusaders)
Our media eyrie in the main stand at Lancaster Park was always a tough place to watch from. It was cramped, the windows scarcely opened and there was little bench space to accommodate a laptop and notebook.
It didn't matter on May 27, 2006.
About an hour and a half before kickoff, the fog rolled in and settled over the ground. You needed infra-red night goggles to catch the action and Sky sent Tony Johnson down to the sideline to fill in the bits of action which Grant Nisbett couldn't see from his vantage point.
We glimpsed Richie McCaw and Ma'a Nonu having a scuffle before the fog got worse.
At one stage Lome Fa'atau ran around in circles trying to find an up and under.
Through our Sports Ears, we could hear referee Jonathan Kaplan telling the packs to "relax" as tensions rose and later asking them if they were "happy with the surface".
On his 33rd birthday, Tana Umaga was penalised for running deliberate interference, then well after the whistle, cousin Jerry Collins was warned about pushing McCaw's head into the ground.
Watching the match it felt like you were seeing a replay of some grainy footage from the Invincibles 1905 tour to the UK.
Extra time looked a serious chance until Casey Laulala speared over from a scissor cut with Daniel Carter. Fulltime 19-12 and the Crusaders had their sixth title.
Just when we needed it, the promotions staff let off a pile of fireworks which blended with the fog and shut out chances of viewing the full presentations.