Anything other than the title would've been a failure for the Crusaders in 2019.
That's some situation to be in - and one that says a lot about the high standards the team has set for itself and how mediocre many of the other Super Rugby sides are.
To live up to that pressure and to remain focused when it was clear they were this year's best team, speaks volumes for the Crusaders' culture.
They truly are a remarkable franchise who all rugby enthusiasts should stand up and applaud.
We normally start with the best effort of the season, but there's a context here.
In the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings, the Crusaders' week-five encounter with the Highlanders was cancelled. They returned to action in the following round, losing 20-12 to the Waratahs in Sydney.
The defeat snapped a 19-game unbeaten run and was punctuated with the kind of sloppy play rarely associated with Crusaders sides.
These were unique circumstances, though, and coach Scott Robertson said the team would be in a better frame of mind when they met the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium a few days later.
Well, what do you know? The Crusaders went to Wellington and thrashed the Hurricanes 32-8.
It was the Crusaders at their clinical best and confirmed that the quest for the 2019 title was definitely a one-horse race.
It's hard to think of a Crusaders regular who didn't have an excellent 2019.
Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock were superb in the second row, with Luke Romano regularly coming on and being almost as good. Matt Todd remains an immensely admirable player, while Joe Moody, David Havili, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge and Sevu Reece all shone too.
But if there was one player whose rugby was just that little bit more magical than everyone else's, then it was first five-eighth Richie Mo'unga.
Reece certainly shone in his first season of Super Rugby, but most improved for 2019 goes to loose forward Whetukamokamo Douglas.
His performances at blindside flanker were very good and you imagine he'll now inherit the No.8 jersey from the departing Kieran Read. With Whitelock on sabbatical next year, Douglas might even end up as captain.
Just on Reece
Clearly his situation is a complicated one.
Whether it's morally right for the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby to contract a player with a history of domestic abuse is open for debate.
The fact is that, based on his rugby alone, Reece deserved to be picked in the All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad. His performances for the Crusaders were amazing at times and you imagine that, at 22, he'll only get better between now and the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
We all get that a brand name can't be chucked out overnight, although you wonder how hard anyone's tried to move on from Crusaders. But the whole knight and sword bit, plus the horses, are a different matter.
The Crusaders could have done better there.
By their own high standards, the Crusaders were struggling when Scott Robertson became head coach.
Three years on, they've won three titles and the coach could be off to the All Blacks. He's certainly presenting a compelling case and might be just what the team needs following the Steve Hansen era.
Ian Foster is keen, but feels like he'd be a step backwards, while Joe Schmidt has ruled himself out. Vern Cotter's been away too long, Warren Gatland has other commitments and Dave Rennie might end up with the Wallabies. You couldn't discount Jamie Joseph, if he were interested, but there's just something about Robertson.
It's the staff that do the bulk of the coaching at All Blacks level, with the head coach more in the mould of a football manager. With the right people around him, Robertson could do that job very well.
Much depends on Robertson. While he's at the Crusaders, you assume they'll keep playing at this kind of level.
If he were to go, along with players such as Read, Whitelock, Crotty, Todd and Owen Franks, then there could be a period of rebuilding.
Mind you, no franchise knows how to succeed at Super Rugby level better than the Crusaders. Starting with men such as Wayne Smith and Gilbert Enoka more than 20 years ago, the Crusaders have built a model and a culture that works.
It's not to everyone's taste, but envy can make critics of even the most rational people.
What can't be denied is that it's now 10 Super Rugby titles for the Crusaders and you imagine they'll start 2020 as short-priced favourites to register number 11.
Mark out of 10 for 2019
Nine. Not perfect, but pretty flaming close.