Beauden Barrett's name was up in lights as usual, when New Zealand's Super Rugby teams unveiled their squads for 2020, but mystery still surrounds how much the Blues will see of the star playmaker.
An air of predictability surrounded the five squad announcements at an event in Auckland on Tuesday, with most of the big signings already announced.
All Blacks wizard Barrett's shift from the Hurricanes to the Blues was one of the biggest moves in the Kiwi domestic scene in recent years.
Long-suffering supporters of the Auckland-based side will hope the two-time World Player of the Year can inject some success, after missing out on playoffs rugby for the last eight seasons.
But the 28-year-old has clauses written into his four-year contract, including an agreement to arrive late next season.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald was unable to specify when their star signing would lace up his boots nor when he might plan to take a sabbatical to Japan, which is also a stipulation in his deal.
But MacDonald did reveal he would field Barrett at five-eighth, rather than fullback, where he shone at test level this year.
Other star All Blacks with contract clauses to sit out the next Super Rugby season are locks Sam Whitelock (Crusaders) and Brodie Retallick (Chiefs).
The pair will maximise their earnings with short stints in Japan, after being granted an exemption by New Zealand Rugby bosses, who continue to seek ways of keeping their best players from departing offshore for good.
A Chiefs team coached by Warren Gatland have lured one key player the other way, with former All Blacks five-eighth Aaron Cruden returning after three seasons in France.
The Blues have filled holes in their midfield, left by departing greats Sonny Bill Williams and Ma'a Nonu, by signing rising England test back Joe Marchant.
The Hurricanes must find a way to thrive without Barrett, while the rebuilding Highlanders will miss a clutch of accomplished performers, including Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Luke Whitelock and Liam Squire.
Arguably, the Crusadrs have suffered the biggest losses, including Whitelock, Kieran Read, Owen Franks and Ryan Crotty, yet they still pack enough quality to start favourites for a fourth straight crown.
Nearly 50 Kiwi players have signed full-time contracts for the first time, while one Australian has crossed the ditch, with former Queensland Reds back Kirisi Kuridrani signing with the Highlanders.
BLUES: Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Matt Duffie, Kurt Eklund, TJ Faiane, Blake Gibson, Josh Goodhue, Jack Heighton, Alex Hodgman, Jordan Hyland, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Tony Lamborn, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Joe Marchant, Emoni Narawa, Ray Niuia, Sam Nock, Jared Page, Dalton Papalii, James Parsons, Stephen Perofeta, Jacob Pierce, Harry Plummer, Marcel Renata, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Tom Robinson, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Mark Telea, Tanielu Tele'a, James Tucker, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Baden Wardlaw.
CHIEFS: Nathan Harris, Bradley Slater, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ryan Coxon, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Reuben O'Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta'avao, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tyler Ardron, Michael Allardice, Laghlan McWhannell, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Dylan Nel, Lisati Milo-Harris, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Tiaan Falcon, Damian McKenzie, Kaleb Trask, Orbyn Leger, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam McNicol, Kini Naholo, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Quinn Tupaea, Sean Wainui.
CRUSADERS: Michael Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, Scott Barrett (c), Ethan Blackadder, George Bower, Tom Christie, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Dunshea, Cullen Grace, Billy Harmon, Sione Havili, Oliver Jager, Andrew Makalio, Brodie McAlister, Joe Moody, Luke Romano, Ethan Roots, Tom Sanders, Quinten Strange, Codie Taylor, Isi Tuungafasi. George Bridge, Fergus Burke, Brett Cameron, Mitchell Drummond, Ere Enari, Braydon Ennor, Leicester Faingaanuku, Inga Finau, Jack Goodhue, Bryn Hall, David Havili, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Dallas McLeod, Richie Mo'unga, Fetuli Paea, Sevu Reece.
HIGHLANDERS: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ricky Jackson, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Jeff Thwaites, Ethan De Groot, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Shannon Frizell, Sione Misiloi, Zane Kapeli, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Jesse Parete, Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava, Bryn Gatland, Josh Ioane, Mitch Hunt, Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Scott Gregory, Ngane Punivai, Jona Nareki, Tevita Nabura, Josh McKay, Michael Collins, Chris Kuridrani, Connor Garden-Bachop.
HURRICANES: Pouri Rakete-Stones, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, James Blackwell, Kane Le'aupepe, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leawere Vaea Fifita, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Murphy Taramai, Devan Flanders, Gareth Evans, TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Fletcher Smith, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Danny Toala, Kobus van Wyk, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, James Marshall, Chase Tiatia.