It was evident in two moments after the final siren, firstly when suited-up non-players were mobbed by teammates like they had indeed played, and then, in the Richmond rooms, when the players gathered for the their first rendition of the club song.
Instead Adelaide chose the worst-possible day to produce their worst performance of the season.
If asked whether Richmond were grand-final material at this point previous year, Riewoldt would have given you an honest answer.
There was an unsuccessful board challenge and the heat was on Damien Hardwick.
After a promising start, the Crows went goalless in the second term - the first time in 36 matches between these two clubs that Adelaide have failed to kick a goal in a quarter.More news: China announces imposition of oil sanctions on North Korea from Oct 1
But the Richmond hierarchy kept faith with Hardwick and he repaid them with his first flag as an AFL senior coach.
"We did it", said coach Damien Hardwick, whose job was under threat past year after Richmond finished 13th in the 18-team competition.
Martin shone with a team-high 27 disposals, several of his signature "don't argue" fend-offs and two goals.
'I honestly cannot believe it, this is a dream come true'. It's a quirk of our Victorian-focused game that the best team in the league this season is nearly billed as the support act to the main thing. It's a dream come true.
And even though the 2017 season is complete, the Tiger faithful - loyal, loud and a little unhinged - are sure to energise the sporting capital for a few more days yet.More news: Star Trek: Discovery's Klingons Represent the Franchise At Its Best
Richmond's much-maligned forward Jack Riewoldt has enjoyed the last laugh.
Rance's spoil on Taylor Walker four minutes into the second term gave Richmond possession and Riewoldt soon marked at the other end.
With Richmond up by nine at the main break, there were concerns on both sides. Richmond looked hot, and Sloane's goal was against the run of play, but Hugh Greenwood's goal, which really just fell into his lap near the goal square, shifted the momentum back the way of the Crows before quarter time.
THE GOAL: With clean hands, Shane Edwards dished off to Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin in the second quarter, who found the youngest man on the ground, Jack Graham.
Again, the cornerstone was All Australian captain Alex Rance, who not only variously nullified Crows skipper Walker and the risky Josh Jenkins, but was so effective at taking intercept marks that Adelaide coach on Pyke was forced to shift Andy Ottens on to him as a defensive forward and drag him back towards goal.More news: Air France Flight Diverted After Engine Explodes
Seven on the trot for the Tigers and three for the quarter in which they kicked five goals to Adelaide's one.