Mark Higgs views it as the lost generation.
The decade in which the production line of Canberra cricketers dried up after changes to the NSW development structure.
Suddenly the ACT Comets had gone from a genuine pathway for the region's juniors to a glorified NSW Second XI team.
The reasons for the changes were complicated and rife with politics but it quickly became clear Canberra cricketers were the biggest losers.
Opportunities to play at the elite level dried up as Sydney-based players were prioritised and the quality of the local competition declined as a result.
The development of Canberra youngsters soon became stunted and the path to the top became near impossible to navigate.
It's a situation Cricket ACT officials are desperate to reverse after finally regaining control of the Comets.
The magnitude of the task, however, became clear in the side's long-awaited return to the field earlier this month, a mammoth innings and 188-run defeat to Western Australia at the WACA.
The loss showed just how much the gap has widened in the 12 seasons since the Comets took out the Futures League in 2011-12.
Mark Higgs captained the side to their one and only title and has watched the decline with sadness throughout the past decade.
"It is a bit of a lost generation," Higgs said.
"The change was hard on the talent coming through Canberra. You couldn't be playing in Canberra and selectable for the ACT/NSW Country Second XI team. It was detrimental towards talent which has a knock-on effect to 19s, 17s and grade cricket.
"The avenue into first-class cricket wasn't as clear cut, the pipelines were different. Every player who wants to play first-class cricket goes through the process of how to get there, the visual wasn't there for young players in Canberra."
Cricket ACT officials have made no secret of the size of the challenge they're currently facing and recognise it will take years to reverse a decade of neglect.
The Comets will return to the field for their first home game as a standalone entity in 10 years on Monday for a four-day clash against South Australia at Phillip.
There is hope the side will be more competitive on a familiar surface but Dean and Cricket ACT head of cricket Stuart Karppinen recognises the learning curve will be steep this summer.
"With only four games a year, our challenge is trying to get the players up to that standard," Karppinen said.
"We need to look to try and get them additional games interstate and under different conditions.
"Only getting 16 days a year at that level, you get to the end of the season and you're starting to improve, then you don't get exposure to it again."
Given how long the path to the top will be, Cricket ACT has placed an emphasis on preparing the next generation for the step up to the Second XI competition.
A host of the current side are in their teens and officials are determined to ensure the ACT under 17 and under 19 teams are competitive at their respective upcoming national championships.
"The programs that underpin the Comets are our 17s and 19s," Karppinen said. "We're trying to manage the talent and get them exposure [to elite cricket].
"That's beyond the eight to 10 days of the Australian championships. There's a great development opportunity there, but what are we doing for the rest of the year? There's some ideas that we have that we're trying to work through."
It's early days, but the impact of the Comets return on the ACT club competition has been instant.
Each week players are putting their hands up for selection, with Norman Vanua taking 6-13 in Weston Creek Molonglo's victory over Eastlake on Saturday and Tyler Hays scoring 91 not out to lead Tuggeranong Valley past Queanbyean.
While the gap between the local competition and National Second XI remains high, there is an expectation it will shrink as more players chase a Comets call up.
"The more we play second XI cricket the more those guys get better," Dean said. "They'll go back to grade cricket and raise the standard again.
"We've seen it before that people come to Canberra for an opportunity to play cricket because they see the pathway. You've got guys like Nathan Lyon, Will Sheridan, guys that have come down and taken the opportunity with both hands and gone on to higher honours."
The long-term goal is entry into the Sheffield Shield. It's unlikely to be an entire team of ACT-raised players, but neither are the Brumbies or Raiders.
What it will provide, however, is a clear path for the region's youngsters to the premier domestic cricket competition in the country.
That alone, is worth the effort for all involved.
Cricket ACT round 7
Weston Creek Molonglo 4-81 bt Eastlake 77
Ginninderra 218 bt ANU 171
Tuggeranong 6-248 bt Queanbeyan 4-245
Western District 224 bt North Canberra Gungahlin 167
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