After six months, 207 matches and all the attendant incident and controversy, the most memorable moment of the 2012 AFL season came in its final 40 seconds.
A grand final goal-mouth scramble, with Sydney and Hawthorn separated by just four points. A quick handball from the Swans' Dan Hannebery to teammate Nick Malceski, and a floating, curling left-foot snap that seemed to hang forever until it fell gently over the goal line, sealing the underdogs a famous premiership win.
It had already been a pulsating contest marked by acts of individual heroics and in which fortunes swung wildly until it was Sydney making the final lunge. With this final moment of drama, its status as a classic was sealed.
Not that there wasn't enough nail-biting drama in 2012. Such as Tom Hawkins' efforts in the closing minutes of an amazing game between Geelong and Hawthorn in round 19, with the key forward booting two goals at the death to drag the Cats over the line.
Or for sheer romance, you could take Gold Coast's post-siren win over Richmond in Cairns in round 16, the Suns snatching two late goals in the final 30 seconds, with the match-winner coming from rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt.
The Melbourne tanking controversy was revived after a Fox Footy interview with former Demon Brock McLean, now a Carlton player.
A previously sceptical AFL moved to interview, or re- interview, former and present players and officials as it trawled for proof that the club was up to no good in its bid for priority draft picks. It remains unresolved.
Kurt Tippett eventually became a Swan, but not before enormous trouble.
The Crows were fined $300,000 and excluded from the first two rounds of next year's draft. Chief executive Steven Trigg was fined $50,000 and suspended for six months, with football manager Phil Harper given a two-month ban. Tippett was fined $50,000 and suspended for 11 matches. He will not play for the Swans until June.
The on-field judiciary struggled, with match review panel decisions frequently at odds with those made by umpires, then on occasion with those overturned by the tribunal. Penalties to North Melbourne's Jack Ziebell and Geelong captain Joel Selwood were a hot topic, with disquiet about the weightings for good and poor records leading to an end-of- season revamp.
The Israel Folau experiment was rudely ended when the former NRL star left Greater Western Sydney after just two seasons in the AFL.
But the biggest lowlight by some margin was a human tragedy, the accidental death of Port Adelaide player John McCarthy on an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas with his Power teammates.
The outpouring of grief and tribute was profound. A reminder that AFL footballers remain, for all their prowess and physical strength, vulnerable young men.
You couldn't go past Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin's amazing haul of 13.4 against North Melbourne at Launceston in round 10, his pyrotechnics driving nail after nail into what seemed a very large Kangaroo coffin.
Essendon skipper Jobe Watson delivered one of the more popular Brownlow Medal wins, with the hard-working midfielder incredibly consistent and prolific in the clinches even as his side crumbled around him under the weight of soft-tissue injuries.
Richmond's Trent Cotchin took his mix of class and courage to a new level in a season rewarded at its conclusion with his club's captaincy.
Collingwood's Dayne Beams might have made the season's biggest leap in status, from talented but inconsistent midfielder to genuine AFL elite, marked by All-Australian selection and a club best and fairest.
Season 2013 is shaping as one of the AFL's most competitive. Precious little separates the top few teams and there's a bigger than usual cluster trying to make the top eight.
Hawthorn, stung by its failure to win a premiership that seemed there for the taking, will hit back hard. Sydney won't be going anywhere, while Collingwood and Geelong remain determined to prove their eras of success are ongoing.
West Coast and Fremantle will continue to push hard, and there will be even greater expectations than usual on an improving Richmond.
Carlton, under Mick Malthouse, will be watched closely, and there will be plenty of eyes on James Hird's Essendon, too.
At the bottom, the quest for competitiveness from new boys Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney goes on. Both had their moments, but also took more than their share of thumpings, the quantity of which may be reduced substantially as lists full of precocious young talent mature into seasoned outfits.
While the AFL in 2012 had big stories left, right and centre, the prospect of what is to come in 2013 is a big enough story in its own right.