Twenty-four hours. That's how long Manly players and supporters had to enjoy the 2011 grand final win before their world imploded. But as Adam Lucius finds out, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are well in the running to chase a rare back-to-back premiership triumph.
When Geoff Toovey ran on for his first game of top grade rugby league, leading radion broadcaster Peter Peters famously remarked that the ballboy had been mistakenly sent into the fray.
Fifteen minutes later the opposing Great Britian forwards were wondering what had hit them as the little blond missle with the angelic face launched his diminutive frame to smash anything in white that dared head his way.
That was way back in 1988. Some 24 years later, Toovey needs no introduction to league fans.
He did it all as a player, representing NSW and Australia, and playing 286 games for the Sea Eagles/Northern Eagles, leading Manly to the 1996 premiership.
Toovey also suffered through the tough times, enduring the birth and painful journey of the ill-fated Northern Eagles venture and Manly's slow rise from the ashes when the maroon and whites emerged as a single entity again.
Retiring in 2001, 'Tooves' spent a long apprenticeship as a lower-grade coach and assistant first grade coach to Des Hasler. He found himself thrust into the first grade hot seat ahead of schedule when Hasler dramatically departed the club just days after guiding the Sea Eagles to the 2011 title.
So when you put it to him that times have bee na little tough at Manly since winning that grand final, Toovey gives a 'what's done is done' shrug of his shoulders and says, "Great things come out of adversity. This team has had several challenges put before them in the past and they've risen above and conquered those challenges," he explains. "I think it's fair to say here at the Manly club, we do rise to those challenges and we don't let those minor obstacles get in our way. We use them to our advantage. I think we've done that in the past and we've got that very tough culture here at Manly."
Peter watched Toovey's progress from (ball)boy to man with a great deal of pride and believes the club could not be in better hands.
"There wasn't much of him but boy was he tough," recalls Peters who, after leaving radio, served as Manly's media officer for close to 20 years.
"The Poms didn't know what hit them that night he ran out against them, and more than a decade later he was still putting the big blokes on their backsides. He carried that steely determination into his coaching career and has been fortunate to work under two of the all-time greats in Bob Fulton and Des Hasler. He is a Manly man through-and-through and knows better than most what makes the place tick."
At the time of writing, the Sea Eagles' season is starting to take a turn for the better.
After an uncharacteristic run of three loses in four games, including a humiliating home defeat to strugglers Gold Coast, Manly had put together consecutive wins to climb back into the top eight.
One of those victories was against Des Hasler's Bulldogs in one of the most talked about games of the season.
It was a win that gave everyone at Manly a great sense of satisfaction - not because they'd knocked over the old boss, but because it felt like the Sea Eagles of old.
"I kept saying the two points was the most important part of that game, not me up against Des," says Toovey, who enjoyed a dressing room beer with his former mentor after the match.
"Des is a legend of this club and that will always be the case, and so it should be. People outside the club can say what they like but there was never any drama between the two of us."
Hasler managed two premierships in four years to set a very high benchmark.
But back-to-back premierships are a rare beast. Only the Brisbane teams of 1992-93 have managed the feat in the modern era (in a unified competition).
However there is growing belief that Manly can become the first team in almost 20 years to pull it off.
Kieran Foran's decision to re-sign with the club, along with halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, has only added to the positive vibe at the club.
"We're a tough group of players and Tooves did a great job to keep our minds on footy when threre was a bit of drama around the place," star second-rower Anthony Watmough says.
"We know we've got the talent in this side to win it again and we know what it takes to win a comp. And the hunger is still there to do it all again." Co-captain Jason King agrees. He says, "There is no doubt that experience of winning a competition holds you in good stead. We feel we can overcome anything that is thrown our way. Losing Des wasn't ideal but Tooves has taken over where he left off and we really haven't missed the boat."
The admiration is two-way at Manly - Toovey is just as enamoured with the senior players for what they are giving back. "Their mental toughness they pass on to the surrounding and less experienced players is very valuable for the coaching staff," he says.
"The important thing I think here is that the senior player group and the premiership winning team are intact. It's a great job being in charge of some great talent at such a great club. There's a lot of character at Manly and some great characters within it."
Toovey continues, "As well as being a skilful playing group, they are very experienced and level-headed. We've been a bit inconsistent - we've played well in some games and poorly in others - and we've got a few bumps to iron out but once we get a few players back I'm sure you will see the best of us and we'll enjoy further success."
It's a view shared by those outside the club. Forestville-based rugby league journalist Dean Ritchie was one of the only journalists to predict Manly's title charge last year and likes what he sees so far in 2012.
"There has been plenty of drama at boardroom level but that is par for the course at Manly," Ritchie believes.
"But you can't fault what Geoff Toovey and the players have delivered. They've been able to overcome all those off-field distractions and mount a credible premiership defence, and that speaks volumes for them. They struggled when they had all those players out earlier in the season but at full strength I still think they are the team to beat this year. It would not suprise me one little bit if they are up there again when the whips are cracking."
Daddy Cool's Eagle Rock has blasted out of the ANZ Stadium speakers twice in the last four years on grand final day. Don't bet against it being on high rotation again come September 30.