In Kerry, September acquires the feel of a nuclear winter when thieved of the magical inconvenience of bartering for All-Ireland final tickets.
Kieran Donaghy reckons they might be "fifth or sixth at best" in the national pecking order now and, for a county that has contested seven of the past nine finals, the sense of displacement is jarring.
So they will watch next week's festivities with the anxious sense of displaced landowners, desperate to reassert their claim on the family holding.
For Donaghy, Donegal-Mayo promises to be an early morning diversion in some Irish bar in the Bronx. He flies to New York next week to be a groomsman at the wedding of an old Tralee Tigers team-mate, James Mooney. The trip will be enjoyable but, ideally, he'd have preferred if football commitments obliged him to send his apologies.
Kerry's year, though, never quite found traction and, save piling forward like disturbed wildebeest in the last seconds of their quarter-final against Donegal, they largely looked a team just treading water.
Jack O'Connor stepped down after that defeat and now the challenge of reawakening the county's imagination falls to Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Donaghy is "more than hopeful" about what the future holds, but he has strong views on the specifics needed for rehab.
He references last year's All-Ireland final as the perfect exhibit of a team maybe fundamentally lacking big-day savvy. Just prior to Kevin McManamon's game-changing goal, Kerry were penalised for a foul in the middle of the field. The perpetrator immediately handed the ball over, facilitating a quick free.
"Imagine that scenario with the Tyrone team of '08," Donaghy says. "The fella with the ball wouldn't be allowed take the free. There'd be two fellas in his way. By the time you forced your way past them, all Tyrone's defensive systems would be in place.
"So we were naive in that sense. Maybe if we'd done that, I'd have another medal today. Instead, because we didn't do it, some fella from Dublin has it."
Donaghy believes that Kerry's keep-ball tactic to protect a lead last September was sensible. It was the application of it that let them down.
"Four points up with seven minutes to go in an All-Ireland final, the ball is now a bar of gold," he stresses. "You have to try and mind it.
"I heard one fella saying we were almost showboating. Trust me, that would be the last thing that would come into your head. Our tactics were exactly the same as they were when we went four points up against Cork in the '09 final. We didn't score for the last 10 minutes that day, but neither did Cork.
"Look, we just got caught against Dublin. I don't think we should ever have lost that game."
The repercussions linger to this day and, it seems, every conceivable angle has been explored with which to localise the criticism. Donaghy himself was upbraided by one Kerry supporter for his positioning while Stephen Cluxton was lining up the match-winning free.
"This fella told me, if he'd a shotgun, he'd have taken me out with it," Donaghy reflects, smiling. "He gave me desperate stick. He said I should have moved to the side because, by me standing in the middle, all Cluxton had to do was aim between my two hands.
"Another fella told me I should have sat down in the yoga pose, that that would have freaked Cluxton out. Can you imagine the stick I'd have got? That'd definitely be a nice picture, me sitting down as Cluxton kicks the winning point."
Recuperation seemed to build nicely in the National League with Kerry recording five wins, one draw and a solitary defeat to Armagh en route to the semi-finals.
But Mayo then edged them out by a point at Croke Park and by the time Kerry's championship was getting under way against Tipperary, Donaghy found himself benched because of a decision he made to travel to the Champions League final in Munich.
Kerry beat Tipp unimpressively that day, a certain torpor appearing to afflict all concerned. Donaghy's personal diary of the year is as follows.
"You'd read afterwards that Kerry were desperate but, to be honest, players don't give a s**t once they win. It was just a bad game for us, we were all over the shop."
"I was taken off and Paul (Galvin) was taken off and we were bad again. I feel I had my worst-ever game in a Kerry jersey that day. My handling was off. I pride myself on the peripheral vision I have from basketball, but one pass I tried to make to Declan O'Sullivan went straight into (Eoin) Cadogan's chest. Boom, Cork went up the field and got a point.
"I remember thinking, 'Jesus Christ, that's so bad it's not even funny.' The harder I tried, the more things went wrong. I could see guys warming up and I knew. To be quite honest, I was nearly hoping he'd take me off because I deserved to be. So, substituted in a Munster championship game with Cork... you have to live with that."
"We should have been gone in Mullingar. I'm telling you now we had no right to get out of there. Six points down, playing into a massive breeze. I remember asking an umpire, 'how long's left?' 'Seventeen minutes,' he says. Ah Jesus Christ.
"Darran O'Sullivan won us the game, simple as that. Came on with a bad hammer and nearly broke the net. Without his goal, we'd have been beaten. We thought we'd all the mistakes of the Cork game worked on, but nothing happened for us again."
"The first game all year that we really played to our potential. I knew I needed a big game, I had a big game. I don't think you could pick a Kerry player that day who played bad. But I remember the Tuesday after, everyone talking about how cynical we'd become. And I was thinking, 'Jesus, I'll have to watch the video, were we that bad?'
"Declan (O'Sullivan) did foul Joe McMahon after I got the goal. Yeah, it was a cynical foul. But f**k it, every other crowd are doing it. We're too nice, we're too naive, you see. People aren't used to this tactical fouling from Kerry, so when they see it, it's 'oh Kerry are gone to the dogs'. There's this big hullabaloo."
"It's like the Tipperary game again in the sense you just want to get through it, do your warm-down and get off the pitch. Coming off, there were fellas roaring at us that we'd drawn Donegal."
"By the time we got the hang of them, it was nearly too late. How we managed to come back at all, I don't really know because there were sucker blows landed everywhere you looked.
"The soft goal. (Eoin) Brosnan, an inspirational player for Kerry, gone off injured. We find out at half-time that (Bryan) Sheehan's in serious trouble.
"Then Declan (O'Sullivan) gets taken off. That was another sucker punch I felt the team could maybe have done without. Just that kind of day. Every 10 minutes, a haymaker.
"Six points down with four and a half minutes to go, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel because we really couldn't figure a way to break them down.
"But then the goal went in and you could see a bit of panic, (Donegal) fellas starting to get a bit tetchy with one another. Next thing, we're just a point down.
"At least we put ourselves in a position to ask the question of Donegal and, in fairness, they came up with the answer. But a draw would have been massive for us because I'd have loved another week to try and figure them out.
"We dominated Donegal for only a few minutes and got 1-3. So their system can be beaten, it's not invincible. I think they like to put that mystique out there that, maybe, it is. But it isn't."
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Donaghy believes the key to that system is the ease with which it dismantles the structure of opposing teams.
"People say to me in Kerry, 'Why didn't they kick more ball into you, Donaghy?" he explains. "The problem is our players were too far away from me when they got it.
"Your corner-forwards and wing-forwards end up back on their own 21 after chasing the likes of Karl Lacey 70 yards down the field. So you get a turnover, but there's nobody to kick it to because they've been pulled. Your structure is gone. There's 50 yards of green grass between us and that makes it easy for them to defend.
"Defenders can play you from the front then because fellas can't chance kicking the ball 60 yards. It's just tough to get your head around it."
His heart says Mayo now, but his head is contradicting. James Horan's team, he believes, need to make a bright start. In the finals of '04 and '06, Kerry devoured them within 10 minutes and Donaghy senses Mayo football has been largely disrespected since.
"People gave out about them after our two finals," he says. "It was implied that they rolled over and lay down. They got very little respect after those games. But we started extremely well both years, we went straight down their throats and it paid off. It was very hard for them.
"I mean, I can't imagine playing in an All-Ireland final and being down 2-4 to no score. I don't know what I'd do or where I'd go to try and come back from that. So I'd just love to see Mayo do themselves justice this time."
As for Kerry and Fitzmaurice, Donaghy believes it could be the perfect union. He describes his former team-mate as "the only man to take this Kerry team forward".
And the nature of the challenge? Last Monday night, he chatted with Mikey Sheehy and Eoin 'Bomber' Liston at a golf function in Tralee and the conversation came around to modern football tactics. Liston and Sheehy agreed that the game in the '70s and '80s was essentially a tactic-free zone.
"Think about it," says Donaghy with incredulity. "You're playing this Kerry team of Bomber, John Egan, Mike Sheehy, Pat Spillane, Ogie Moran, Ger Power and Jacko and the opposition's only plan seemed to be to go man for man with them. Those days are gone.
"It's win at all costs now and the tactics of a team like Donegal can be very hard to figure out. I wouldn't say Kerry will have to buy into those tactics now, but we'll have to put our own stamp on them. We've always kind of moved with the times without copying anybody.
"Anyway, there's not a whole lot that needs to be changed with this Kerry team. We don't need to re-invent the wheel. We're just going to have to become fitter, stronger, more tactically aware, better organised and maybe a bit more cynical. But the ingredients are still there.
"That's why the winter will be fun, trying to come up with ways to take on the Donegals, Mayos, Dublins and Corks. I can't wait for training to start."