Is this the price of success?
The Canberra Raiders' return to the NRL grand final after 25 years in the wilderness threatens was a fitting subplot in rugby league's theatre of dreams.
Yet it threatens to leave their salary cap bursting at the seams.
The reality that Canberra's players are now worth more than they were just months ago leaves the club locked in a battle to balance the books.
Managers are pushing for upgrades and extensions while players are ticking off the incentives in their contracts.
It all comes with the territory of playing on the game's biggest stage, and serves as a reminder of how hard it is to do so year after year.
The Raiders ultimately fell short in their quest for a drought-breaking premiership yet they are still feeling the pinch that makes it so hard to consistently stay in the hunt.
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If anyone needs a reminder of that, the Sydney Roosters became the first team to win successive unified premierships in 26 years when Boyd Cordner lifted the trophy this season.
Cue the jokes about salary sombreros and a second set of books. This is, after all, a Roosters side that has poached Cooper Cronk, James Tedesco, Angus Crichton and Luke Keary in recent years.
But Roosters chairman Nick Politis, infamously dubbed "Uncle Nick", says such jibes are a result of jealousy and 23 of the club's top 30 this year had been donning the tricolours since under 20s.
For them, each day is just like any other. For the Raiders, this is uncharted territory.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart must find a way to keep the bulk of his roster in tact to ensure his beloved Raiders are in the mix for the Provan-Summons Trophy every September and into the first week of October.
The challenge has already begun. Players from successful teams inevitably earn representative honours and thus command bigger contracts.
Nobody could begrudge someone for looking out for their own best interests during their relatively short career in professional sport.
Days before the grand final there was speculation about John Bateman's future amid talk he could seek a release in order to cash in on his talent elsewhere.
The immediate aftermath of the controversial defeat brought with it questions about Jordan Rapana, Joey Leilua and Aidan Sezer.
Rapana is edging closer to a move to a Japanese rugby union franchise but claims he is open to a short stint which could pave the way for a return to Canberra.
Leilua has been told he can explore other offers with the Raiders likely to struggle to keep him at his asking price beyond next season, although there is a feeling he could stay put in the capital.
Dark clouds have hovered over Sezer's future for months as the Raiders brace for the arrival of English Test halfback George Williams.
Now the halfback who helped the Raiders to the grand final has been linked to a multi-year deal with Huddersfield in the Super League.
A week after the Raiders made their arduous journey back to the capital, it was news Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton has knocked back his one-year contract option for 2021.
Rival clubs are already beginning to circle before they can make formal offers from November 1.
But Wighton's manager Matt Rose will give the Raiders the final right of reply in their bid to retain the 26-year-old.
Rose says Wighton is a far better player than the one who signed his current contract two years ago. Today he is a Clive Churchill Medal winner, a NSW Blues representative, and soon enough an Australian Kangaroo.
All hallmarks of a successful player in a successful team, the likes of which every club is desperate to be associated with.
Some will inevitably fall off the wagon moving forward. Whether that includes the likes of Rapana, Leilua and Sezer for next season remains to be seen.
These are players many Raiders fans have come to grow and love as they steered their club back within a whisker of the promised land.
But the price of doing so may see them forced out and perhaps left to rue what might have been if not for that six again call or a forgettable set which proved the difference between elation and devastation.