It might not have ended in a drought-breaking premiership, but the Canberra Raiders' 2020 NRL campaign was still a success.
Not only did they have to overcome more adversity than most, but they also built impressive depth for the future as a result.
Such that Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will hopefully have the good kind of selection headache next year. As opposed to the bad ones he so often had this season.
From injuries to coronavirus-induced travel tolls, the Raiders' 2020 had it all. Ending in the preliminary final despite all they had to overcome along the way.
Talk about a tough introduction to your new club. Sure, Curtis Scott probably shouldn't have been passed out under a tree in Moore Park following Australia Day celebrations.
But that's no excuse for the horrific ordeal the NSW Police put the Raiders centre through after that.
Woken up. Tasered. Pepper sprayed. Then thrown in the slammer. Accused of assaulting police. And all unlawfully.
The terrifying footage was something you'd expect in a fascist state. Not in Australia's biggest city, Sydney.
It's not surprising Scott struggled for form during his first season in lime green.
Hopefully, with that all behind the 23-year-old, he'll now be able to show the form that made him a premiership player with the Melbourne Storm.
Unfortunately, the Raiders' year ended in similar fashion to how it began. This time it was Tom Starling who was arrested for assaulting police. This time on the Central Coast.
He also said he didn't do anything wrong. It will be interesting to see how his case pans out when he appears in court mid January.
Everything all Wighton
Dally M Medallist Jack Wighton. Has a nice ring to it doesn't it. And it caps off quite a rise for the Raiders five-eighth.
In just two seasons playing in the No.6 jersey since switching from fullback, Wighton has made his State of Origin and Australian debuts, won the Clive Churchill Medal as best on ground in the 2019 NRL grand final, won a Mal Meninga Medal as the Green Machine's best and fairest and now he's added the Dally M Medal to his ever expanding pool room.
Maybe that's why he's got himself a little bit of land on the outskirts of Canberra. So he's got plenty of space for his trophy cabinet.
It was a fitting reward for an outstanding season from Wighton. He repeatedly stepped up when the Raiders needed him to - especially towards the back end of the season.
To highlight that, he scored nine tries in Canberra's final eight games of 2020.
It had the Sydney media ringing their hands and gnashing their teeth about how the Dally M voting system was broken. And how could this happen?
Maybe a more pertinent question for them might have been given Wighton was the Dally M Medallist, why wasn't he also the NSW Blues five-eighth?
Especially since the Blues lost the supposedly unloseable State of Origin series against the "worst ever Queensland side".
Maybe Wighton could have gotten the Blues over the line. Just as he'd done many a time for the Green Machine.
Wighton and new halves partner George Williams were about the only area of the field the Raiders weren't hit by injury.
It seemed like every week another Canberran was ruled out. Co-captain Josh Hodgson. Sia Soliola. Corey Horsburgh. Emre Guler. Bailey Simonsson. John Bateman. Ryan Sutton. Michael Oldfield.
It had Stuart trying to remember when he'd crossed paths with a black cat.
But that led to the emergence of Starling as a hooking option. Sutton established himself as an NRL prop. Hudson Young did the same, but showed he's an option on an edge too.
Veteran Dunamis Lui stepped up to be a leader of the pack - culminating in being part of Queensland's stunning Origin victory. While young backs Matt Timoko, Harley Smith-Shields and Semi Valemei all got a taste of NRL.
That's where Stuart's future headache hopefully comes in - especially in the forwards.
How does he fit so many quality players into his pack? Especially with the arrival of former Gold Coast captain Ryan James, who's looking to get his career back on track after a couple of knee injuries.
There's also the matter of replacing Bateman, who has returned to England to play for the Wigan Warriors.
Stuart already has one of the world's best second rowers in Elliott Whitehead. He'll be hoping Young or Corey Harawira-Naera step up to be the same on the other edge.
Tackle of the year
Is there anything Josh Papalii can't do?
Gold Coast half Jamal Fogarty will never live down the fact the Raiders prop sprinted him down to produce an ankle tap that was clearly the tackle of the 2020 NRL season.
If Fogarty's Titans teammates have any sort of sense of humour they'd be hitting Papalii up for a pair of the budgy smugglers upon which the tackle has been immortalised.
Fogarty looked certain to score having made a line break, but never underestimate the massive lion heart that beats in Papalii's chest.
Conquering the SCG
It was a win that not only defined the Raiders' grit, but defied their mounting injury toll. When they knocked the Sydney Roosters off their SCG perch in round 10.
With seven first-graders sitting on the sidelines, the Green Machine - driven by Josh Papalii - came from behind to score a stunning upset.
It announced to the rest of the NRL that it would take more than a raft of flesh wounds to knock Canberra out of the premiership race.
Papalii, like Wighton, was immense for the Raiders and he also put Canberra on his back more than once and carried them to victory.
On this occasion the Roosters only had themselves to blame - a stray elbow catching Papalii in the nose and making the big bopper angry.
"When he got whacked in the nose - I don't understand why he didn't get a penalty - but when he got whacked in the nose like that I was pretty confident we were going to go on and win this match because they poked the bear," Stuart said after the 24-20 victory.
The Raiders returned to the scene of the crime in the semi-finals to repeat the dose to knock the Roosters out of the premiership race. It also ended the Bondi princes' chances of a threepeat.
When he got whacked in the nose - I don't understand why he didn't get a penalty - but when he got whacked in the nose like that I was pretty confident we were going to go on and win this match because they poked the bear.Raiders coach Ricky Stuart
Blow up the Bunker
Stuart also had a bit to say about NRL head of football Graham Annesley and the Bunker after a series of controversial calls went against the Green Machine.
But by the end of the year the pair were working together trying to improve the game as part of the NRL innovations committee.
First, he said the NRL should take an axe to either the Bunker or those in charge of it in July.
Then he doubled down after Wighton was sin binned in the Raiders' win over the New Zealand Warriors in round 19.
"Graham Annesley is a really nice man, he's been in the game for a long time, but in regards to rugby league, Graham Annesley and myself, we are planets apart," Stuart said.
Someone will get a PhD out of the effect of travel on injuries from the 2020 season. And the Green Machine will be the perfect case study.
Bubbles, COVID-19 protocols, hand sanitizer, social distancing and Zoom meetings all became part of daily life when the pandemic erupted.
Players weren't even allowed to go for a coffee and spent the season going from home to training or the game and back again. Nowhere else.
When the competition resumed following the coronavirus shutdown, someone at the NRL decided to try and make the Raiders wither on the vine.
Not only weren't they allowed to play at Canberra Stadium, but they weren't allowed to fly to their new "home" at Campbelltown.
Instead, hour after hour they bussed up and down the Hume Highway.
And the worst part? Because they were in the bubble under tight "Apollo restrictions" they weren't even allowed to stop at Goulburn and have some of Trapper's pies.
Meanwhile, it wasn't surprising to see Penrith and Parramatta up near the top of the ladder as they barely left Sydney.
STATS THAT MATTER
Season record: Played 23, won 16, lost seven. Lost preliminary final.
Leaving players: John Bateman, Nick Cotric, Michael Oldfield, Luke Bateman, Jack Murchie, JJ Collins, Andre Niko.
New players: Ryan James, Caleb Aekins, Harry Rushton.
Round one: Canberra Raiders bt Gold Coast Titans 24-6 at Canberra Stadium.
Round two: Canberra Raiders bt New Zealand Warriors 20-6 at Gold Coast.
Round three: Canberra Raiders bt Melbourne Storm 22-6 at Melbourne.
Round four: Newcastle Knights bt Canberra Raiders 34-18 at Campbelltown.
Round five: Canberra Raiders bt Wests Tigers 14-6 at Campbelltown.
Round six: Manly Sea Eagles bt Canberra Raiders 14-6 at Campbelltown.
Round seven: Parramatta Eels bt Canberra Raiders 25-24 at Parramatta.
Round eight: Canberra Raiders bt St George Illawarra Dragons 22-16 at Canberra Stadium.
Round nine: Melbourne Storm bt Canberra Raiders 20-14 at Canberra Stadium.
Round 10: Canberra Raiders bt Sydney Roosters 24-20 at the SCG.
Round 11: Canberra Raiders bt South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-12 at Canberra Stadium.
Round 12: Canberra Raiders bt North Queensland Cowboys 14-12 at Townsville.
Round 13: Penrith Panthers bt Canberra Raiders 28-12 at Penrith.
Round 14: Canberra Raiders bt Brisbane Broncos 36-8 at Canberra Stadium.
Round 15: Canberra Raiders bt Gold Coast Titans 36-16 at Gold Coast.
Round 16: Canberra Raiders bt Canterbury Bulldogs 34-20 at Canberra Stadium.
Round 17: Sydney Roosters bt Canberra Raiders 18-6 at Canberra Stadium.
Round 18: Canberra Raiders bt St George Illawarra Dragons 37-8 at Wollongong.
Round 19: Canberra Raiders bt New Zealand Warriors 26-14 at Canberra Stadium.
Round 20: Canberra Raiders bt Cronulla 38-28 at Kogarah.
Elimination final: Canberra Raiders bt Cronulla 32-20 at Canberra Stadium.
Semi-final: Canberra Raiders bt Sydney Roosters 22-18 at SCG.
Preliminary final: Melbourne Storm bt Canberra Raiders 30-10 at Lang Park.
Round one: Sunday, March 14 - Raiders v Tigers, Canberra Stadium, 4.05pm.
Round two: Sunday, March 21 - Raiders v Sharks, Kogarah, 6.15pm.
Round three: Saturday, March 27 - Raiders v Warriors, Canberra Stadium, 3pm.
Round four: Saturday, April 3 - Raiders v Titans, Gold Coast, 7.35pm.
Round five: Friday, April 9 - Raiders v Panthers, Penrith Stadium, 7.55pm.
Round six: Saturday, April 17 - Raiders v Eels, Canberra Stadium, 7.35pm.
Round seven: Saturday, April 24 - Raiders v Cowboys, Townsville, 7.35pm.
Round eight: Thursday, April 29 - Raiders v Rabbitohs, Canberra Stadium, 7.50pm.
Round nine: Saturday, May 8 - Raiders v Knights, Wagga Stadium, 3pm.
Round 10: Saturday, May 15 - Raiders v Bulldogs, Lang Park, 3pm.
Round 11: Saturday, May 22 - Raiders v Storm, Canberra Stadium, 7.35pm.
Round 12: Saturday, May 29 - Raiders v Roosters, Perth, 5.30pm.
Round 13: Bye
Round 14: Saturday, June 12 - Raiders v Broncos, Canberra Stadium, 7.35pm.
Round 15: Saturday, June 19 - Raiders v Dragons, Wollongong, 5.30pm.
Round 16: Saturday, July 3 - Raiders v Titans, Canberra Stadium, 5.30pm.
Round 17: Thursday, July 8 - Raiders v Sea Eagles, Brookvale, 7.50pm.
Round 18: Saturday, July 17 - Raiders v Sharks, Canberra Stadium, 3pm.
Round 19: Thursday, July 22 - Raiders v Eels, Parramatta Stadium, 7.50pm.
Round 20: Saturday, July 31 - Raiders v Knights, Newcastle, 5.30pm.
Round 21: Friday, August 6 - Raiders v Dragons, Canberra Stadium, 6pm.
Round 22: Thursday, August 12 - Raiders v Storm, Melbourne, 7.50pm.
Round 23: Friday, August 20 - Raiders v Sea Eagles, Canberra Stadium, 6pm.
Round 24: Friday, August 27 - Raiders v Warriors, Mt Smart Stadium, 6pm.
Round 25: Thursday, September 2 - Raiders v Roosters, Canberra Stadium, 7.50pm.