With two rounds to go, Dublin's dreams of reaching the Allianz Football League final are balanced on a knife edge.
Except, of course, that dreaming has got nothing to do with it.
For Dessie Farrell, this league is all about getting to know his squad and road-testing those who might break into the all-conquering establishment.
With this in mind, the Dublin boss has been starting two-thirds of last year's All-Ireland team, filling the remaining places with a mixture of young wannabes, comeback kids and veterans who had lost their status as championship regulars.
Specifically, of the 15 players who featured in the replay parade last September, nine started against Kerry in January while ten started the next four Division 1 outings.
But what of those yet to be seen? How close are they to a comeback?
Here we look at seven marquee stars, six of whom haven't featured at all under Farrell, whereas Jack McCaffrey returned as a sub against Tyrone last Saturday, only to hobble off before full-time.
This magnificent missing seven include reigning Footballer of the Year Stephen Cluxton.
The man who skippered Dublin through the entire five-in-a-row odyssey has been sidelined after shoulder surgery but, as Brian Howard remarked this week, even his presence around the squad is "huge for us because he’s so knowledgeable, he gives us bits of advice and picks up on everything.
"And he's hungrier than ever," Howard added.
1 Stephen Cluxton
Fears that Dublin's record-breaking captain would follow their record-shredding manager into retirement were allayed by the new boss in January.
"I've met with Stephen and he’s indicated he’s very keen to stay involved," Dessie Farrell confirmed.
With one caveat: Cluxton wouldn't be back until "towards the end of March" because of shoulder surgery that entailed more repair work "than he originally thought."
This message was decoded as meaning we wouldn't see the 38-year-old 'keeper on Dublin duty this side of the Leinster SFC. That remains the presumption, especially as Farrell remarked (after the Donegal game) that "we're not in any hurry to rush him back."
The good news? For the most part, Evan Comerford has fitted snugly into those daunting boots and gloves. His shot-stopping against Donegal, especially, offered reassurance that whenever Cluxton does retire, Dublin possess an heir-in-waiting.
But fans will be even more assured when 'Clucko' is back.
2 Con O'Callaghan
The most recent update hinted at a looming return for Dublin's most explosive young forward talent.
"He's recovering well. It will be another couple of weeks, though, before we see Con," said Dessie Farrell.
That was the prediction after the Donegal game, 12 days ago … could he be in line for a return against old rivals Meath on Sunday week?
It’s hard to be definitive, given the sketchy nature of Dublin's injury bulletins. The two-time All Star has been out of action since damaging his shoulder in the warm-up before UCD's Sigerson Cup victory over Jordanstown on January 12.
Later that same week, a Dublin team spokesperson told The Herald that the injury was "not as serious as we first suspected".
But he added: "We are going to give Con some space to recover from that knock and it is likely to be four to five weeks before we revisit that."
That was almost seven weeks ago.
3 Michael Darragh Macauley
On the same night that he was asked about O'Callaghan, Farrell initially suggested a similar recovery period for his veteran midfielder but then clarified: "Michael Darragh will be a little bit longer."
Earlier this year Macauley underwent what his manager described as a "small surgery" intended to correct a wear-and-tear groin problem he was managing throughout Ballyboden St Enda's recent club odyssey.
Macauley came off the bench during all three Leinster rounds before starting their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilcoo, when his day was ended by a black card on 50 minutes.
According to Farrell, the player is "recovering well. He's making good progress."
He would not confirm whether or not he’ll miss the rest of the league, saying "we're not sure yet", but an early return seems unlikely.
A flying-fit Macauley still has plenty to offer, either starting or off the bench, especially with a still unresolved question mark over who will partner Brian Fenton this summer.
4 Johnny Cooper
The six-time All-Ireland winner came back later from his January jaunts than the rest, having ventured on to Australia after Dublin’s team holiday in Bali.
Yet it's surprising that he hasn’t featured to date in any of the five match-day squads.
Speaking four days after the Monaghan win, Cooper confirmed that he was back in full training and put his hand up for selection.
"I came back later from holidays - I came back on January 18," he explained.
"I've just been slow enough coming back, but it was always the plan to kind of take my time.
"I'm studying at the moment as well so I’m trying to get balance, I guess, but also fitness-wise.
"Hopefully for the next block of games I’ll be able to be involved."
Post-Donegal, Farrell remarked: "We'd hope to see Jonny fairly soon back in action."
He didn't make the squad for the latest instalment of the Battle of Omagh – what odds Meath in Croker?
5 Jack McCaffrey
A squelchy Omagh surface battered by typhoon conditions was probably not the ideal backdrop for the return of Dublin's most renowned speed machine.
The worry, though, was that McCaffrey's half-time comeback lasted just over half-an-hour being he departed nursing a twinge.
Afterwards, his manager didn't sound overly perturbed.
"There was a slight concern with him," Farrell explained. "He flagged something with us so, rather than run the risk, we said we'd get him out."
It's fair to surmise that the Clontarf medic's six-month work stint in St Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny had been a factor in his initial league absence.
He has suffered a few hamstring tweaks in the past (including last year's All-Ireland replay) but his ability to hit the ground running after a long-term lay-off was thrillingly evidenced by his superlative post-cruciate form in 2018.
Once Jack is back flying in summer, Dublin fans won't mind.
6 Cian O'Sullivan
O’Sullivan's pivotal influence has diminished somewhat in recent years. So long the glue that bound Dublin’s defensive structure, the sweeping centre-back missed a big chunk in mid-2018 following shoulder surgery.
Since then, however, that achingly familiar hamstring foe has been his chief enemy.
It forced him off early in the 2018 semi-final and final; and whereas he started Dublin’s first four SFC games last summer, there followed just a brace of cameos in the last five.
The three-time All Star, soon to turn 32, has yet to resurface this spring – but he made his Kilmacud comeback last Sunday, playing the full second half of their Dublin AFL win over Naomh Mearnóg.
Post-Donegal, Farrell gave a generalised response when asked about O'Sullivan and Diarmuid Connolly, citing a "hefty injury list".
Then he added: "We're very, very happy with the progress some of these players are making. And (they) should be ready to step up quite shortly."
7 Diarmuid Connolly
No marquee Dub has featured so fleetingly during the last three legs of the five-in-a-row … and once again questions are being asked, five league games into a new regime.
The manager's above answer (to a question about O’Sullivan and Connolly) was cryptic about comeback dates, although one unconfirmed report suggests a hamstring issue. Farrell had already confirmed Connolly's continued involvement back in January.
For now, he remains the most lightly raced thoroughbred in football. Since the start of 2017, for reasons of suspension and then opting out, Connolly has featured in just 11 Dublin fixtures: he started three games and came off the bench eight times, three of those in the dying minutes.
Excluding injury-time, that translates into approximately 309 minutes – less than four-and-a-half full games.
His second half against Mayo in 2017 was a stunning reminder of his talismanic influence. But that was almost three years ago, and he will be 33 in July.