Cold rhythm of Cody's Kilkenny never changes
There was something profoundly sobering about Kilkenny's cold dismissal of Wexford in Nowlan Park last Sunday.
Given that injury deprived Brian Cody the services of Richie Power and Colin Fennelly, two of hurling's most coveted forwards, we might have believed the All-Ireland champions would require some tentative early steps in this Championship. Instead, they devoured Liam Dunne's team with the ruthlessness of a tiger downing a zebra.
There is a view that if Kilkenny secure Liam MacCarthy again this September for the 11th time on Cody's watch, the rest of the game might as well just burn their hurleys and take up croquet. After all, where else could you imagine a dressing-room deprived of the names Power, Fennelly, Delaney, Walsh, Shefflin, Fogarty, Hogan and Herity retaining sufficient breadth of talent to beat a decent Wexford team by two dozen points?
Next weekend's All-Ireland qualifiers will undoubtedly ratchet the intensity of the hurling championship higher and there is no doubting the likes of Clare could yet be bolters in the push towards September.
Tipperary and Galway have set down high-scoring markers too and, on the evidence of the year so far, Waterford will be a quarrelsome challenge for anyone.
But Kilkenny's opening statement was a reality check for those tossing covetous glances in the direction of their crown. It was a reminder that the rhythms of Cody's world are unchanging, regardless of traffic in and out of a Kilkenny dressing room. Ger Aylward scored 3-5 last weekend, yet will know that his work to stay in the team is merely starting here.
That's the difference with Kilkenny. Complacency is never tolerated. Lofty self-regard gets treated as a virus. Every day, every game is met with the same, unrelenting will to be the best that they can be.
High time surely to break the county into two!