When Down overcame Tyrone in the Ulster football championship back in June, few people would then have wagered that Mickey Harte’s side would go on to win the All Ireland title for a third time.
Even at that juncture, the bets were rolling in on Kerry to make it three-in-row and virtually take ownership of ‘Sam’.
And yet I believe it was in those two games against Down - and particularly in the replay - that the seeds of Tyrone’s third crown were sown.
They may have lost in that memorable contest in Newry by a point but they played some mesmerising passages of football, their passing, shooting and link work being of the highest order.
Since then, of course, they may have encountered the odd hiccup, notably against Westmeath, in negotiating the qualifiers before laying down a marker in relation to their title credentials by walloping Dublin in the All Ireland quarter-final.
Down fans today will surely be thinking that they have grounds for optimism now that they have become the only side to inflict a championship defeat on Tyrone this year.
I share this feeling - if Ross Carr and DJ Kane can get the side on a roll, you never know what might happen.
Today, though, Tyrone survey the GAA world from a lofty perch - and it will take a very good side to dislodge them.
Tyrone’s fierce commitment to each other on the park, their fearless approach and the tactical expertise of manager Mickey Harte proved too much for all opponents this year - except Down, that is.
Now there is the real belief that they can extend their reign at the top.
I must say I was surprised by Kerry’s naivete on Sunday. Their centre-half-back Aidan O’Mahony was exposed - Mickey had done his homework on Kerry’s perceived weaknesses - and Martin Penrose and subsequently Brian McGuigan were allowed to enjoy some freedom which, being the fine players that they are, they exploited to the full.
The manner in which the Kerry defence almost invited Tyrone to attack had much in common with the parting of the Red Sea and it was no real surprise when Tyrone’s goal arrived early in the second-half. Tommy McGuigan may have got the final touch but it was substitutes Stephen O’Neill and Kevin Hughes who proved their worth in the build-up.
Maybe some folk will say that Tyrone themselves were fortunate not to concede a goal but they had more than enough character and poise to finish strongly and leave Kerry a very poor second.
Tyrone worked hard at midfield without perhaps taking too many clean catches but they certainly managed to restrict Kerry in terms of launching attacks.
And the fact that the Kingdom did not track back well enough and often enough highlighted another flaw in their make-up.
In contrast, Mickey Harte and his very efficient backroom team certainly had their homework well done on Kerry.
They had what they believed to be weaknesses pinpointed and they laid their plans accordingly - indeed, they were given some help in this connection by Kerry themselves!
Only Dara O Se, Tomas O Se and Declan O’Sullivan proved themselves as leaders on Sunday when the Kingdom found themselves under the cosh.
I must say I was mildly amused when I noted that Joe Brolly opined that Kieran Donaghy is one of the best players of all time.
Tyrone full-back Justin McMahon certainly gave the lie to that by the efficient manner in which he contained the full-forward right from the outset and if Justin does not get an Allstar, I’ll be hugely surprised.
Nor will he be the only Tyrone player to figure in the honours list later this year.
There is a host of candidates ranging from Brian Dooher to Sean Cavanagh and it will be only right if they are awarded Allstars. Kerry will be back next year of course.
They will have a handy passage through Munster - what’s new? - and will arrive safely in the All Ireland quarter-finals.
Mind you, they will be under much more intense pressure to regain their credibility especially now that their former All Ireland winner Jimmy Dinehan has suggested that the capture of the Sam Maguire Cup by Tyrone and Armagh in recent years were nothing more than ‘blips’.
If Kerry are not careful, those blips could translate into the natural order of things and that would surely leave Jimmy, whose smugness might surprise those without any real knowledge of the Kerry psyche, with egg all over his face.
Like the rest of us, he would do well to consider that Tyrone are in the All Ireland Minor final replay on Saturday with a good chance of coming out on top. But whether they win or not, the fact remains that there is a seam of talent within the Red Hand county that can only be described as frightening.
If the strength of Mickey Harte’s bench is to be taken into account and the assumption is made that several of the current Minor crop can make a smooth transition to the senior arena, then Tyrone’s future looks to be in very capable hands indeed.
That’s very encouraging for the O’Neill county - and very worrying for those sides with aspirations of mounting a meaningful challenge to their current supremacy.
Tyrone, it seems, could be in for the long haul at the top.