It's not often a team wins 12 games, loses another five by 13 points or less, finishes ninth on the ladder, then gets so completely overlooked in final eight speculation the following pre-season it's as if it ceased to exist.
Bright future: St Kilda coach Scott Watters and captain Nick Riewoldt. Photo: Getty Images
Remember St Kilda? It was a kick away from two premierships a couple of years back.
Played in four straight finals series. And last season made short work of eventual premier Sydney.
But there's barely a tipster in the land who has the Saints finishing any higher than 12th in 2013. And as Scott Watters' side kicks off its new season with a trip to the Gold Coast on Saturday, enough plumping for the fledgling Suns to start that slide immediately.
Ahmed Saad, just one of the bright lights for the Saints in 2012. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Watters is hardly insulted. He confronted the same indifference leading the club for the first time 12 months ago. "It was very similar. People were unsure how to view our list," he says.
"Our focus doesn't change. We've got some older players that we need to continue to coach and challenge really hard, and we've also got a large portion of players on our list that we need to develop. We've got a responsibility to keep finding players and continue to do that whilst remaining competitive.
"I think every side, from grand finalists the whole way down the ladder, is always evolving its list. That's why you'll never hear me talk about a rebuild or being patient." Part of the contrasting popular uncertainty is that when it comes to the Saints, list demographics threaten to deceive. Much of the focus remains on the old hands – Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes, Stephen Milne, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna et al – who in age terms provide some serious skewing.
The Saints across the board are older than any club except Sydney. They rank fifth for average games played. Yet there are also no fewer than 26 players aged 23 or younger, and fewer 50-game players than just about any club bar new boys Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.
St Kilda has made 21 changes to its list in only a 12-month period. As captain Riewoldt said last week: "The change rooms down at the club are pretty much unrecognisable from those [grand final] years personnel wise."
And as important as the contribution of the veterans remains, the continual focus on them is for the Saints and their fans, something of an anachronism. Last year, they were more excited about the stepping up of midfielders David Armitage and Jack Steven, defender Tom Simpkin and forwards Ahmed Saad and Terry Milera.
Now the buzz is about the likes of Jack Newnes, the fast-emerging Arryn Sippos, Jimmy Webster and draftee Brodie Murdoch. More mature key forward Tom Lee. Or some lower-profile pick-ups from other clubs, ruckman Tom Hickey, forward Trent Dennis-Lane and defender Dylan Roberton.
"You'll continue to see them emerge this year," says Watters.
"If you look at all those changes to our list, there's probably not a player over 23. I think that sends a pretty clear message on the sort of foundation we're trying to build. They must be given opportunity, and birth certificates are irrelevant as far as I'm concerned."
Likewise at the other end of the age scale. "Some of our senior players I still expect and can still challenge to be better. Nick Dal Santo had an OK year [in 2012] but he's had a very strong pre-season, and I expect better from him this year. I expect Stephen Milne to hold his ground. I expect Nick [Riewoldt] to hold his ground. 'Joey' Montagna has still got a lot of good footy in front of him."
As for the departed Brendon Goddard, Watters isn't going to waste time looking for a replacement.
"There's talk of Arryn Sippos filling the shoes of Brendon Goddard. But I want him to be the next Arryn Sippos," says the coach. "We don't need to replace any one player, that has never been part of our discussion. What has been is the continual evolution of a whole number of players."
And with that, the St Kilda of the next few years.
"We've added depth in the areas we needed to, and that will continue. We'll be very, very aggressive at the end of this year looking for key defenders and an A-grade midfielder. Our salary cap is in a very good position, but it takes a number of drafts to get your list in a position where you can really move forward, and we're about halfway there."
Which explains plenty about the popular view of the Saints. Faced with a choice of the glass half-full or empty, it's easier to see the group of names so familiar with St Kilda's last decade, then their birthdates, and conclude that this is a team that will get worse before it gets better.
Harder to predict is the extent to which the Saints' lower profile but capable support cast can step into the leading roles while the process continues. But when you're coming off as solid a base as in 2012, we're not talking serious makeovers.
And in that context, St Kilda in 2013 has the opportunity to go from being the team forgotten in finals speculation, to the one who causes the pundits the most embarrassment.