The Chiefs' 2018 Super Rugby season can be summed up as being one of mixed emotions for them.
With a new coach, a new assistant, and some big-name players having departed offshore, this year was one where fan expectations were well-tempered heading into February.
Then came all those injuries before a ball was even kicked in anger, and a casualty ward that just kept growing.
But with the performances in the face of such adversity, supporters had belief grow, with even uncontracted players becoming standouts in many cases.
The team tracked nicely going into the playoffs, but then the quarterfinals proved a hurdle too far - thanks in no small part to Sanzaar's whacky competition format, where the third-best team in the competition in terms of number of wins were forced to play away against effectively the second-best side - as the Chiefs bowed out in a 32-31 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington last Friday night.
Here's a look at the campaign, and how the squad is shaping for next year.
THE STATS (includes quarterfinals)
Tries: 64 (fifth)
Metres carried: 8,619 (second)
Clean breaks: 259 (second)
Defenders beaten: 443 (second)
Offloads: 198 (second)
Lineouts won: 88.2% (third-equal)
Scrums won: 95% (first)
In the first round after the June international break the Chiefs exploded out of the blocks and put on what one of the best halves of footy ever seen in the competition.
It may well be a long, long time before anything like the 42-0 halftime scoreline is seen again in a Kiwi derby, after the attacking clinic of six converted tries.
Even despite losing the second half 22-3, the damage had well and truly been done, in an important match in terms of jockeying for position, against a Highlanders side who had looked dangerous before the break in toppling the Hurricanes.
The 23-19 loss to the Jaguares in Rotorua.
That round 12 game is one to look back on as a big miss, with the Chiefs only able to settle for a bonus point after going in as hot favourites.
The Jaguares had tipped up the Blues in Auckland the week before and eventually made the playoffs, but the Chiefs ought to have been good enough to take down the Argentines, particularly on home turf.
Having had the bye the week before, and a two-game tour to South Africa straight after, the fixture was perhaps one subconsciously taken a bit lightly, and the Chiefs were indeed out-spirited in all areas, with their pack taught a lesson and two yellow cards and a penalty try conceded.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Even with missing two games for All Blacks stand-down requirements and a further two with injury, the colossal lock was still the team's life and soul, and most consistent influence.
As seasons go on you keep wondering if there is anything the man can't do. Aside from pushing at scrums and winning crisp lineout ball, he hammers bodies at the breakdown to provide quick attack, carries with grunt, enacts catch-and-pass plays in the backline, and is an absolute menace in the face of the opposition.
Oh, and he ended the season with as many tries (six) as Damian McKenzie.
FIND OF THE SEASON
It's an unbelievable story which played out for the big prop, who just a few years back at 170kg got back on the footy field thanks to a doctor's orders.
The North Harbour loosehead found himself with a surprise Super Rugby gig after being called in at the Chiefs as injury-cover. When more players went down he had himself a starting role, then all of a sudden he was into the All Blacks for the series against France, where he showed his force off the bench in the three tests.
The 25-year-old was in no small part the reason the Chiefs had the best scrum in the competition, and has now got coach Colin Cooper doing everything to keep his services.
WHO'S BACK NEXT YEAR AND WHO'S NOT?
COACHES: Colin Cooper (2020), Neil Barnes, Tabai Matson, Andrew Strawbridge (all 2019).
Departing: Dominic Bird (Racing 92), Liam Messam (Toulon), Johnny Fa'auli (Toshiba), Charlie Ngatai (Lyon), Tim Nanai-Williams (Clermont).
Staying: Kane Hames, Sefo Kautai, Nathan Harris, Brodie Retallick, Michael Allardice, Taleni Seu, Mitchell Brown, Tyler Ardron, Lachlan Boshier, Mitch Karpik, Jonathan Taumateine, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Tiaan Falcon, Sam McNicol (all 2019), Liam Polwart, Alex Nankivell, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sean Wainui (all 2020), Sam Cane, Damian McKenzie, Solomon Alaimalo (all 2021).
Off contract: Mitchell Graham, Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Fin Hoeata, Marty McKenzie, Regan Verney, Levi Aumua, Toni Pulu, Shaun Stevenson.
Weren't in 38-man contracted squad but got game time: Karl Tu'inukuafe, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta'avao, Jeff Thwaites, Matt Matich, Pita Gus Sowakula, Declan O'Donnell, Bailyn Sullivan, Luteru Laulala.