IN THE moment, it felt like an eternity.
In reality, it happened in a split second.
As the ball hung suspended in front of Nick Daicos, and the footy world held its collective breath for the next flicker of time to elapse, Collingwood's newest megastar waited with the patience and poise of someone far belying his 20 young years.
In the blink of an eye, so quick you could barely see it until replays flashed across the MCG's screens in the seconds after, Daicos shifted the ball with the fastest of handballs to his midfield maestro Jordan De Goey.
De Goey would burst into space and punch through a running goal from the paint of the 50m arc. It would restore a Collingwood lead that just 19 seconds earlier had evaporated at Charlie Cameron's feet, one they wouldn't lose again.
The Magpies, really, could not have hoped for two better players to feature. After all, this season had been one defined by the swiftness and clinical precision of Daicos and the power and force of De Goey.
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Throughout a dominant campaign, the midfield pairing had been Collingwood's dominant duo. Their collective brilliance had helped keep Craig McRae's side at the top of the table for much of the campaign, and would now help deliver premiership No.16.
Barely a minute went by before Steele Sidebottom added another, giving the Magpies enough breathing space to eventually hold off the Lions even despite Joe Daniher's gallant late snap.
"It was a big moment, wasn't it?" McRae said afterwards. "I am looking forward to a red wine replay. That was one of the big moments in the Grand Final. There were many, but that was certainly one of them."
But if that moment reflected Collingwood's brilliance, not just on this afternoon but across an entire season, then it did just as much to mirror the grit and determination McRae's charges demonstrated throughout 2023.
In one of the best Grand Finals in living memory, Collingwood had to respond again and again. Every time Brisbane claimed any type of ascendency, it was snatched back within an instant. This was just another one of those moments.
In the opening quarter, Brody Mihocek's magnificent snap from the boundary line shattered a run of three straight Lions goals and ensured the momentum that had seemed to be breaking one way suddenly shifted the other.
In the second, when Cameron was in the midst of a scintillating 10-minute spell to give Brisbane another period of dominance, Daicos and De Goey teamed up to assist eventual Norm Smith Medal winner Bobby Hill for another steadier.
It was the same later in a topsy turvy term, when a run of three more Lions goals was broken by a long-range effort from deep inside the forward pocket delivered by the Magpies' reigning back-to-back best and fairest Jack Crisp.
Collingwood's resolve was tested further in the second half. Despite seven goals being kicked collectively in the first quarter, and 11 in the second, the Pies had to wait more than 27 minutes before finally hitting the scoreboard in the third.
It had seemed like Brisbane had sapped Collingwood's run. So, instead of going fast, it got smart. Hill, having taken another grab inside 50m, shaped to shoot before opting to pass for Scott Pendlebury. It restored a three-quarter time lead for McRae's team.
From there, the Pies probably deserved to win. But when Cameron converted his fantastic goal with a tick over five minutes on the clock, deep into the final quarter, yet another question was posed.
Thankfully, as they had throughout the afternoon – and as they had throughout the entire campaign – Collingwood, typically with both Daicos and De Goey at the helm, had the answer.
And didn't they know it. At around 8pm, almost three hours after the final siren had blown to confirm the club's thrilling four-point Grand Final win, the pair would recreate the moment once again.
After the Collingwood players walked back to the middle of the MCG to belt out the club song one last time, Daicos and De Goey broke off and trudged to centre-half forward at the Punt Road end.
Daicos leapt into the air, handballed an imaginary ball to De Goey, and watched as his teammate wheeled around and kicked that footy goal-wards. The celebrations, even three hours later, were just as raucous this time around.