This time last year, the obituaries were being prepared for this Donegal squad.
A 16-point defeat to Mayo in the quarter-finals was the biggest losing margin any All-Ireland champions had to live with and it seemed like retirements were going to further weaken them.
That is, until Michael Murphy called a player's meeting to circle the wagons. It probably postponed the departures of around half a dozen players.
"Everyone wanted to come back and give it another good crack after last year. We wanted to put that pride back in ourselves. The older lads didn't want to leave it like that," recounts Murphy.
As a captain, he is tailor-made for the role. All season he has played in a deep-lying role, mainly in the half-back line, when he would be rated as one of the finest scoring forwards in the country.
Yet Murphy, who has just opened a sports shop in partnership with midfielder Neil Gallagher in Letterkenny, is unconcerned about personal glory.
"It doesn't matter where I play, I don't give a damn as long as we get the result we want. We have trust in Jim (McGuinness) that when he places you in a role that it's for the greater good of the team."
As good as they have been this year – and they are some way off their 2012 form – Murphy knows they are going to have to go up through the gears rapidly to match Dublin.
And any pointing to the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final between these two is irrelevant.
"Dublin are a more experienced and a better rounded side than in 2011," says Murphy, who studied at DCU.
"Without a doubt they're a much better side than 2011. They're a very good side. But I think we're a better side now as well.
"That was the first season under Jim and, four years down the line, you'd like to think you're in a better position. The experiences we've had now means we're better equipped to deal with whatever situation arises in any given game."
Murphy also acknowledges the huge contribution the Dublin subs make, when he continues: "They've serious firepower. The lads that come in off the bench are also contributing massively. But we've lads that are coming in and also doing a great job.
We're seeing the benefits of what we tried to do in the National League now. Squad wise, we're very happy with how that has gone.
"We've a number of new additions this term that are really coming to the fore.
"It helps when you need that injection in the second-half when bodies are getting tired. We'll need that to continue if we're to overcome Dublin in their own backyard."
That, and maybe more.