BERNARD BROGAN sits, taking questions, under the windswept shadow of the Pigeon House. Two icons of city life: one peeling and faded, the other in his prime and ready for summer.
The striped towers may dominate the city's landscape and outer appearance but it is the health of the Dubs' championship challenge that is the real barometer of how the place is ticking.
Twenty months on from Kevin McManamon's goal, Stephen Cluxton's free and seeing us "all in Coppers", there are signs of life in blue once again. Last season's defence didn't go to plan, but the Hill was still high on the previous summer's success and were willing to write it off.
Now the league is in the bag and expectancy is on the rise. The boys in blue are the bookies' favourites and if they are to deliver a second Sam Maguire in three years, then they'll need the 2010 Player of the Year to lead the charge.
The sight of Brogan trooping off after 58 minutes of last month's league final win over Tyrone will have left the faithful disconcerted. Dean Rock might have gotten the job done for Jim Gavin's men, but fans know Dublin require Brogan at full tilt to earn a Croke Park date on the fourth Sunday of September.
Now back with St Oliver Plunketts/Eoghan Ruadh and preparing for tonight's Dublin championship opener against Ballinteer St John's, the forward has had time to reflect on the league as he looks forward to playing Westmeath or Carlow on June 1.
When Dublin were good in the league, they were sensational, but Brogan reckons that the transition from the hard-nosed Pat Gilroy regime and the free-spirited, youth-infused attacking flow under Gavin remains a work in progress.
All the new faces have reminded Brogan that he is 29 and he is looking to shoulder the responsibility that comes from his status in the game. While injuries meant he had to bide his time for his own introduction to senior inter-county football, he has done his catching up and, having collected a second national title, is hungry for more.
Rock, Paul Mannion and Ciaran Kilkenny represent the next generation, Paddy Andrews is a face from the past who has impressed and Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Flynn and McManamon remain from the All-Ireland win. Suddenly, Brogan isn't the only show in town and, with brother Alan and Eoghan O'Gara to come back from injury, Gavin has options aplenty. Not that Brogan is ready to hand his jersey over.
"I won't be waving anyone through. They can come, they can battle away and we'll all move in the right direction together. I'll work hard to stake my claim and get the jersey for as long as possible," he said.
"It took me a long time to get into the Dublin team, I didn't start playing until I was 23 and I'd done three years trying to break in. I know how hard I have to work to be there, it is not a given that I'll be on the pitch, I have to work as hard as everyone else and I have to do my bit.
"I love playing for Dublin, it is where I want to be. I want to hold on to that No 15 jersey for as long as I can."
He insists, however, that coming off against Tyrone with the game in the balance was not frustrating and says that the result outweighed any personal pride that might have been hurt – especially given the way the younger players stepped up and delivered, something he believes has come from their many underage victories.
"You can't have your way every day. I was well marshalled on the day. The lads were tight enough so you just have to put your hands up and Jim knows that," he admitted, adding that he was struggling to recapture his form after injury.
"I got caught with a bit of a niggle. I played nine or 10 weeks in a row, between Dublin and Leinster, the O'Byrne Cup and the league. It probably just caught up with me a bit. I came back into the semi-final and final and I probably didn't catch the form I was in before.
"In fairness, Jim made the change and Dean Rock was the change and he was the winning of the game. He got two great scores. That's what you want.
"When you're asked questions and you still come out with the win, you take more from that. You take more from those games than winning a game comprehensively – especially when different lads show form and different lads come on and do the business.
"It showed a lot of composure from them. It showed a lot of confidence from them. They have come from a background of winning titles. A lot of them have won U-21 titles with Jim. They know what it's like to win and that's maybe not something Dublin might have had for the last 10 years.
"When those lads come in, they don't have the worries or the baggage of older Dublin teams, with the defeats that they have had against the likes of Kerry and Tyrone. They're born leaders and born winners and it's great to have them when they're called upon."
There are questions over Dublin's style of play approaching the championship. Anyone who has watched them in full flight has enjoyed the ride, but after years of defensive play winning out there remains questions about their openness remaining unpunished into August and beyond.
Brogan spent large swathes of the Gilroy era as the only Dublin player in the opposition's half and, although he thrived, he is enjoying the additional support. Still, he admits, they may have to tweak things come the championship.
"There is a new method of play, we're trying to play a more open game of football and it is not the perfect article," he said.
"Throughout the league we worked well, shifting it between us. There were games where it didn't work as well, but definitely there is support there and it is great to have lads that you can be confident in that they will take all their scores.
"You don't have to be worrying about getting all the scores, there are five or six lads there who can take scores and you've no problem passing the ball around, giving them the ball and they'll tap it over the bar.
"It is a work in progress, we want to be as defensive as you can and get the right balance. Obviously it is not the finished article, but we're working away on it and we've great individuals there, it is about getting the system together.
"For the next couple of weeks when we're back with the clubs, they are working away at getting the system right and finding the right way to go and then we can spend the next few weeks getting that right. We're not the finished article, but we're going in the right direction."