Even before the 2017 Origin series began, Queensland were counting the cost. No Matt Scott to muster the forwards when they needed it most, no Greg Inglis to rise to the occasion when a game was on the line. Backrow warrior Corey Parker was content in retirement.
Along the way, Johnathan Thurston would succumb to injury and miss the opener, before essentially sacrificing his shoulder in game two while orchestrating a comeback victory. His Kangaroos team-mate, Darius Boyd (thumb), will join him on the sidelines in Brisbane.
It's little wonder Cameron Smith would rate a series victory in 2017 as the most satisfying of his Origin career. Before the decider at Suncorp Stadium, the Maroons captain says victory would be one of the most special moments of his career.
Smith has seen just about everything Origin has to offer. He's been at the heart of the great Queensland team and in the midst of it all as Origin has risen from a passionate, yet largely insular, interstate series to a ratings behemoth and a cultural phenomenon.
Lifting the Shield in Brisbane on Wednesday night would cap it all off, Smith said, given the context of their injury crisis and the manner in which they rose from the canvas in game two in Sydney, where many thought the curtains would finally be drawn.
"It'd be the most satisfying, I reckon, no doubt about that given the injuries we've had the and the personnel that are unavailable," Smith said on Monday as Queensland concluded their Gold Coast camp.
"Inglis, Scott, Darius for this game, JT for two of the games, there's a lot of guys there with a lot of talent and a lot of experience at this level.
"So it'd be pretty satisfying but we're not at all getting ahead of ourselves and thinking about how good it would be to win the series, we know there's a lot of hard work in front of us to be at that point at the 80th minute to be ahead on the scoreboard.
"Our focus is purely on our last session tomorrow and them making sure that we deliver and 80-minute performance because we haven't done that thus far this series. I think we owe that to our fans and everyone in Queensland."
With so many familiar faces absent, Queensland will start as outsiders on their home turf. Yet history says that regardless of the make-up of the side, NSW find it difficult to get the job done when it matters most.
Queensland have won the past six series deciders. Four of those were in Brisbane. Out of the 11 game threes in Brisbane when a series was at stake, NSW have saluted just twice.
There has been change in the Maroons line-up, although Billy Slater will be cleared to play after a minor ankle strain. He may not take part in the Captain's Run but Smith said new five-eighth Cameron Munster had settled in strongly, despite a few early nerves.
And if triumph in Sydney has given them fresh confidence, the game one humbling won't be far from Queensland's mind. Smith said he felt fans were short-changed in the opener as the NSW pack owned the middle en route to a record victory.
"We've already addressed a bit of that about our performance in game one, that was hit on the head leading into game two, so we're all aware of that and making sure that that doesn't happen again," Smith said.
"We know what's needed for this game and we don't want to see any disappointed faces on people at Suncorp on Wednesday, so I'd like to think that we'll go out and make the people at Suncorp and everyone watching at home in Queensland proud of our effort.
"We believe that we've prepared well, we've got the game-plan to play well and if everyone goes out and does that, they play their best footy, then we're a really good chance of winning the game."
If there was the feeling NSW let a golden opportunity slip at home, then Smith also thinks Queensland are the ones they may have some added improvement. He's been frustrated with the way they had faded in and out of games and promised 80 minutes of dedication with the series at stake.
"I can't comment on where they think they're at as far as their performances. I know they played extremely well in game one and for the most part of game two, they did the same thing but we just hung in there and hung in there and waited for our opportunity and we took it.
"I just know from this side, I just think overall we haven't put together an 80-minute performance this series and that's what's needed in game ghree. If we deliver that, if we bring an 80-minute performance that we know we can bring, then hopefully that results in a victory for us."