State of Origin is almost dead. If NSW couldn't win this year, then when? Not even after blowing a near Origin monopoly to bits in game one. Hovering their finger over the detonate button at half-time in Origin II. They were poked. Prodded. Pushed a bit. The Origin movie always finishes the same way. Sequel after sequel.
And Laurie Daley's post script? There will likely not be another re-run. Drained and defeated again - his fourth series in five years - this one will sting most. Probably longest. No NSW coach has had the chance to right that many wrongs, regardless of how good the opposition has been he has tried to plot against.
Like a general trying to muster one last rebellion from his troops, he stalked the bench and stood on the sideline when his troops were just about conquered. It needn't matter. It wasn't the 2015 humiliation - at least not on the scoreboard - but make no mistake this decider, Queensland's from the get-go as they sauntered to a 22-6 win at Suncorp Stadium, was even more profound as they chalked up a 11th series win in 12 years.
NSW have run out of ideas, and run out of time. Ditto probably for Daley. He could argue he had probably the greatest Origin side assembled to defeat, but not this year. His shirt he wore in Kingscliff camp said it all, "no excuses". He won't be able to find one.
He actually told the man many suspect should be groomed for his role - NSW games record holder Brad Fittler - at half-time his side should have been buried at half-time. They gasped for a few breaths after the break, yet the switch on the life support was always going to be turned off eventually.
Cameron Smith doesn't have his all-star cast around him any more, but he he doesn't need them. Cameron Munster showed why Kevin Walters was so desperate for an-all Melbourne spine with a display Johnathan Thurston would have been proud of and Valentine Holmes bagged a hat-trick.
And this with no Thurston. No Greg Inglis. No Darius Boyd. No Matt Scott. No chance? Not on your life. This is Queensland. They're never dead, even though some will argue Origin. Not even when a dynasty's foundations are going. Or gone. Or on their last legs. Or blooding umpteen rookies. They're always alive.
And Smith? He should be the next Immortal in line. All week he warned NSW he was going to shoot out of dummy-half rather than shovel. Still they couldn't stop it. It's what the best do. You know what they're thinking, what they're planning and still you can't stifle it.
The more things change the more they stay the same. Sometimes centre Michael Morgan swivelled and threw a near miracle ball and Holmes touched down for a dubious first try. This time it wasn't a white boot on the sideline chalk, but a ball starting to leave his hands which never quite did in time for NSW believers.
It came off the back of Smith, who taunted the same Blues which embarrassed Queensland through the middle in game one. If a week is a long time in rugby league, six weeks is an eternity. The Blues were blasted off the park. And doesn't Daley know it.
Cronk should have scored on the next set, harassed into spilling the ball as he dived prematurely for the line after Queensland and the Storm's holy trinity carved the Blues to ribbons.
He wouldn't make a mistake again. On the back of another Smith-inspired break, Cronk kicked so flat and so fast it might have been a 40 metre pass right onto the chest of a grateful Holmes who had mugged an unsuspecting Blake Ferguson. Smith converted from the sideline - the second time in 10 minutes - and the Maroons had a 12-point lead at the break.
Muggings? None come better than Josh Dugan, so carefree with his ball handling in the first half, as he picked Holmes' pocket off a James Maloney kick. It was a lifeline when one never looked like coming, or barely deserved.
So it proved. Munster broke through and found a juggling Holmes for his third. He even threw a speculator back infield which fell to Jarrod Wallace to score shortly after. Find a debutant who has been so good so quickly.
This story first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald website