Canberra maintain COVID-19 has forced a brotherhood that made them a tighter and hungrier team than the one that lost last year's NRL grand final.
Only Melbourne stand between the Raiders and a second straight decider, as they try to erase the pain of one of the cruellest title defeats to the Sydney Roosters last year.
But while their 2019 run to October was built on a wave of passion, the Raiders have this year thrived on an even tighter bond between players.
Outside of the displaced Storm and Warriors, few have had it harder than Canberra this year.
Beside from the departing John Bateman, each of the five Englishmen have had to live with the fact they'll unlikely be able to return home at year's end to see family.
"You look after each other," Bateman said.
"If a few of the boys are down, you're going to be down. Because it has been a tough year for everyone.
"There have been times when I have been missing my family and a few of the boys have come around.
"Everyone looks after one another and that is the best thing - Canberra is a small place so you don't just go off on your own.
"We are a real close-knit team and we don't just turn up to play, we are best mates."
Pushed to the limits on the field because of a crippling injury toll, they have also been done no favours off it.
Friday's trip to Melbourne will be their 13th long-haul interstate travel of the year, having played just nine games in the nation's capital.
That included a six-week stint either side of the shutdown, where Canberra couldn't play at home and spent a ridiculous 25 hours in transit.
"When we got dealt the schedule we knew what we were going to have to do," Bateman said.
"We spoke about it and we said the only people who can get us through it is ourselves and I think that is what we have done this year.
"Week-in and week out we spend time with each other off the field and that is what gets you through it.
"It has been a massive year but we don't kick stones, we just get on with it."
Which brings them to Friday.
It was against Melbourne in week one of last year's finals Canberra proved they were the real deal, before the pain of their grand-final loss.
And while only 11 players from that defeat will be available, it's left those remaining more determined along with the hungry youngsters.
"A younger squad is sometimes the best, they're hungry and just love playing," Papalii said.
"We got so close to winning the comp last year, it would be nice to go back to the grand final and see another sea of green."