Twice in the jubilant Storm dressing room, the coach Craig Bellamy confessed to a strange emptiness. Then he quietly broke from a conversation with the former Storm, and now Raiders', front-rower, Brett White, and sought the sanctuary of a tiny masseurs' room.
With cheers, tears and beers swirling, he said: ''I feel very flat. But I think I've worked out the reason.''
Coaches are rarely in touch with their own feelings. It's their business to monitor everyone else's.
''It's because of Whitey and all those blokes who didn't play today and had premierships taken from them,'' he explained, referring to the 2007 and 2009 trophies withdrawn by the NRL for salary cap rorting.
Whereas the captain Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman can now reflect on their official and unofficial titles after their 14-4 win over Canterbury, Bellamy is aware that premierships are elusive beasts and the opportunity for some players may have passed.
Hoffman returned from two seasons in England to reclaim a legitimate premiership, as Will Chambers did from rugby union.
It's the reason Brett Finch will exit Super League and re-sign with Melbourne for 2013 on the kind of money you'd find in a poor box.
But some players from 2007 and 2009 may never be in a position to compare, nor tell their grandchildren they were in an official grand final winning team.
It's these players for whom Bellamy tolled because he's a players' coach. Some coaches are boardroom savvy, others are popular with fans and sponsors but Bellamy's loyalty and duty of care is to his players.
It's the sorcerer's stone of his profession. When players know how hard the coach works, the decent ones are obliged to respond in kind. The ones without character have already been culled from the club.
Earlier, Bellamy had told a room full of players, staff and well-wishers: ''I've only got one thing to say. We got what we f----- deserved.''
I've heard him say that only once before, after a loss to the Warriors at Melbourne's Olympic Park in the first weekend of semi-finals in 2008.
On that occasion, he attributed the defeat to ill-discipline, particularly penalties and injudicious kicking.
On Sunday night at ANZ Stadium, the sub-text to his comment was: ''They can't take this one away.''
The Storm will finish the 2012 season $35,000 under the salary cap. Their books have undergone more scrutiny than the Dead Sea scrolls, with the NRL salary cap auditor and accountants from News Ltd, the club's owner, forensically examining every payment.
Rugby league is an Old Testament sport. Its heroes all have tales of redemption. But revenge and retaliation are negative forces. They are at odds with the positive forces of the creative Cronk, or Slater who moves like silk, billowed by a breeze.
Bellamy, therefore, knew he could not rebuild the club on a platform of vengeance against the NRL's near-death sentence.
Still, those lost premierships were an unspoken motive that sat with the Storm players in every dressing room across the NRL, went home with them in their training bags and woke with them in the morning.
Hard work kept the players and coaching staff focused.
Watch them at training and it's Japanese theatre; one rehearsed routine after another.
Cronk won the Clive Churchill medal courtesy of his kicking.
Hoffman scored the first try as a result of exploiting a weakness in the Bulldogs' right-hand defence.
Visit a training session and you will see the Cronk kick that led to the try by winger Justin O'Neill and you'll hear Bellamy yell ''inside shoulder'' as Hoffman runs his line at the defence.
The only skill Bellamy can't control is goal kicking and he was perplexed by Smith's four misses at goal, following his three failures against the Sea Eagles in the preliminary final.
Paradoxically, it became a positive.
A score of 22-4 may have tempted the Storm to relax but, with a winning margin of less than two converted tries, they had to focus.
Sports Data statistics showed Storm had a 97 per cent efficiency rating, a grand final record, with only five potential plays lost out of 180.
''I'd like to say missing those four goals was the plan to keep our minds on the job,'' Smith said, ''but the truth is I took too much time … two were bad kicks and the wind took two.''
Then, with the Black Eyed Peas singing ''tonight's gonna be a good night'' relentlessly, Bellamy took his first taste of beer in six weeks, succumbed to the celebrations and stepped out into the very good night.