History will have to be made but Taranaki could yet have their hands back on the Ranfurly Shield.
Eleven months after losing it so painfully to Waikato, Taranaki will get to challenge for New Zealand rugby's most coveted provincial prize, providing Counties-Manukau can do what they have never done and win the Log o' Wood.
The South Auckland union has never had its name etched on the 109-year-old shield but will front Hawke's Bay in five days' time.
It's not going to be easy for the Tana Umaga-coached side, however. They have to face Auckland on Wednesday night before they travel to Napier on Saturday to potentially create history.
If they can pull off what many will consider an upset, then Taranaki will have the first opportunity to challenge when they travel to Grower's Stadium on Sunday, September 15.
Having seen a potential chance to gain revenge against Waikato slip away last week when the Mooloo men were beaten by Otago, Taranaki will not be bogged down thinking about what could happen.
First on the agenda is a date with Auckland at Yarrow Stadium where a significant form reversal might be needed for Taranaki to get just their second win of the NPC.
They at least got a tick in the win column after holding on desperately to beat Southland 15-14 in Invercargill on Saturday night. If they can topple Auckland then they will warm up for a possible shield challenge with a curtain-raiser against Hawke's Bay in New Plymouth four days later.
The helter-skelter nature of the NPC continues, as do the intriguing shield possibilities.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have you lost faith in Taranaki rugby?Related story: Taranaki lose to Waikato
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates