When a 19-year-old Jason Hoffman came off the bench to help Newcastle win the 2007-08 A-League grand final against Central Coast, he had no idea how long he'd have to wait to repeat that moment.
A decade, to be exact.
And throughout the ensuing years of hardship at the Jets and a stint at the former Melbourne Heart, that initial naivety has been replaced with renewed drive to rediscover that title-winning feeling.
Finally, Hoffman is back on the brink, with only Melbourne Victory standing in the way in Saturday's highly anticipated 2017/18 decider at McDonald Jones Stadium.
And with a greater appreciation of what it means to be there, the home-grown utility is soaking up every moment.
"I think I was a wide-eyed teenager back then in 2007-08," Hoffman said.
"I probably took it for granted. I was coming from a junior club at Hamilton Olympic and always seemed to be part of a team that had success.
"Then my first year as a professional was that season and we had success again.
"I didn't realise how hard it was to make a finals series, let alone the grand final and become the champions.
"To have the opportunity on Saturday, especially being in Newcastle, is something that'll be extra special in comparison to '07-08."
Unlike the last triumph at Allianz Stadium, this is a historic home decider.
There are other differences with that season, like that fact so many different players have delivered big-stage moments of magic.
"Joel Griffiths who was on fire that year, a lot of the goal-scoring relied on him," Hoffman said.
"This year, there's been plenty of different goal-scorers and we've got different threats all over the park."
Seven players have five or more goals, including Hoffman, whose sixth last weekend against Melbourne City was the 2-1 semi-final winner.
This is without doubt the 29-year-old's breakout season, the first in which he's scored more than twice and played with a new-found freedom.
That can be said of the whole squad, a striking phenomenon given the hardships of recent seasons and one he partly puts down to coach Ernie Merrick "taking the pressure away from the top" and instilling the playing style fuelling the fairytale.
"It's an attacking style which just resonated with me really well," Hoffman said.
"Ernie has managed to get the best out of me, this is the best season I've had to date and I've just really enjoyed playing football.
"I know, come Saturday, I'll just enjoy the occasion and raise the bar that little bit more to make sure we get the win we deserve."