For 14 years Cameron Smith spilled blood, sweat and tears alongside Cooper Cronk. Now he will attempt to end the champion playmaker's career just as more history beckons him.
Melbourne set up what shapes as the game of the season when they won through to a blockbuster preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters at the SCG on Saturday night.
After running roughshod over Parramatta in Saturday's semi-final, Craig Bellamy's men face another chapter in the rivalry between the two dominant clubs of the century, with a total of 15 grand final appearances between them since 2000.
Not only will a spot in another grand final be on the line, so too will be the career of retirement-bound Cronk, who has left an indelible mark on both clubs.
Along with Smith and Billy Slater, Cronk helped define the Storm's golden era before moving to the Roosters after 2017 and taking them to the cusp of becoming the first back-to-back NRL premiers since 1992-92.
Smith has no doubt the Roosters will take inspiration from attempting to provide Cronk with a fitting grand final farewell.
"Of course they will. He's been a great player for the Roosters in the near-two seasons that he's played there," said Smith.
"Just as he was important with us. We wouldn't have had the success that we had here without him. I dare say it would be the same at the Roosters."
What many thought would be a repeat of last year's grand final match-up has come a week early.
The Storm led the competition since the Origin period on their way to winning their third minor premiership in four years.
But the Roosters have retained favouritism throughout and at times have appeared to be a cut above their opposition, as in their 30-6 demolition of South Sydney in the first week of finals.
While the Roosters smashed a surprisingly lacklustre Melbourne 21-6 in last year's grand final, their two clashes this season have been nail-biters producing a win a piece with both decided by two points or less.
"Ask anyone that's been a part of the finals and they all would have said that if they wanted to take out the competition, at some stage they'd have to beat the Roosters," Smith said.
"We're under no illusions that it's going to be a really difficult challenge.
"But we're going to go up there with a lot of confidence.
"We know we're a good footy side. We finished minor premiers, we finished there for a reason."
The winner of the Roosters-Storm preliminary final will meet Canberra or the Rabbitohs in the grand final the following Sunday.
The Raiders had the week off after springing an upset on the Storm while the Rabbitohs bounced back with a dramatic 34-26 victory over Manly which was headlined by Cody Walker (slapping) and Jake Trbojevic (professional foul) being sin-binned.
Australian Associated Press