This time last year, Daly Cherry-Evans and Mitchell Pearce were both trying to plot their first major State of Origin success as a starting half.
Locked in camp ahead of the 2019 decider, Cherry-Evans was Queensland captain and Pearce was getting his 19th shot as NSW's half.
In a COVID-free world, they could have been back there again this weekend too.
Cherry-Evans would almost certainly have been leading the Maroons out onto Suncorp Stadium, in Game III of this year's series.
And Pearce would have been in a battle with Nathan Cleary and Luke Keary to marshal the Blues after finally tasting success last year.
Instead, this has been no normal year. Nor has it been a usual NRL season.
When they meet on Sunday, Cherry-Evans will again be in Manly maroon, and Pearce partly in Newcastle' blue.
But instead of 52,000 fans at Suncorp, there will be just 2000 at Brookvale, socially distanced to one every four square metres on the hill.
Welcome to the rugby league in 2020 at suburban grounds.
Not that it will have any influence on the pair's battle.
Both the Sea Eagles and the Knights will be desperate for a win, blown off the park by their opponents last week.
And again, Cherry-Evans and Pearce will be among the most influential.
"Both are class players," Manly coach Des Hasler said.
"They've got so much experience, they've played grand finals, Origins.
"They both have such a big bearing on the outcome of any game. That match up will be one the fans really enjoy.
"They bring a lot to the players for both sides ... I'm sure they are going to have a huge influence."
Pearce, in particular has been strong - being involved in 12 tries this year as his combination with Queenslander Kalyn Ponga flourishes.
Hasler meanwhile backed Cherry-Evans' decision-making and ability to find his form without the injured Tom Trbojevic at the back.
The pair though aren't the only two affected by the representative delay, with Trbojevic's brother Jake a notable example.
Manly's starting props Addin Fonua-Blake and Martin Taupau surely would have figured in the mid-year Tests, now among the best pairings in the league.
They'll meet a fair match this week though, given Newcastle's starting props David Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti could well have both played for NSW this year.
Instead, they'll have to wait another four months for the opportunity in the end-of-year series.
Perhaps Bradman Best could have made his case too, clearly the rookie of the year on the Knights' dangerous left edge, and with a point to prove after he missed last week's defeat due to a biosecurity breach.
"I think he missed us, the way he trained this week," Knights coach Adam O'Brien said.
"Bradman is the type of kid who doesn't need much motivation, he just wants to play well all the time."
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Manly have won 17 of 20 against Newcastle at Brookvale.
* Manly have won nine of their past 11 against Newcastle anywhere.
* Newcastle have outscored their opponents in every second half this year by 104-38.
Australian Associated Press