AT the start of May, Huddersfield Giants were riding the crest of a wave.
The men in claret and gold were top of Super League XVII after the opening 12 rounds and were in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.
Coach Nathan Brown’s men had secured outstanding League victories at title favourites Wigan Warriors on the opening day and at reigning champions Leeds Rhinos on March 30.
And in reaching the last eight of the Challenge Cup, they destroyed second-placed Hull FC 42-16 at the KC Stadium.
Heading into the summer they looked virtually unbeatable.
But then it all went horribly wrong, with the news Giants chief Brown would be joining St Helens for the start of 2013 seen by many as the root cause of the problem – even though that announcement had been made in early April and it was always the Australian’s intention to leave at the end of the season anyway.
Yet as the results – and performances – began to fall away, it was the off-field events that began to occupy many thoughts.
Less than two months after Brown’s planned move, captain Kevin Brown also announced he’d be on his way at the end of the season, starting a new life at Widnes Vikings.
That stunning news on May 26 was followed a day later by a shock 38-34 Magic Weekend defeat to struggling Salford at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium – and it was effectively the beginning of the end of the Giants’ challenge.
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Dreams of a top-four finish quickly faded away as six of the next seven Super League fixtures ended in defeat, including a totally demoralising 52-6 loss at another struggling side, Castleford Tigers.
A week later, Huddersfield suffered a 33-6 Challenge Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Warrington Wolves, and a day later Brown was released early from his contract, having clearly lost the support of his senior players.
That meant assistant coach Paul Anderson immediately stepped up, rather than having to wait for the start of the 2013 season when he was due to take over on a three-year contract.
With so much internal disruption, it was no great surprise the opening weeks of his reign were tough.
But three wins in the final five fixtures of the season, including a home win over Leeds which handed Huddersfield a first double over their West Yorkshire rivals in half a century, suggesting Anderson will be the right man for the job.
Unfortunately, a heavy defeat at Hull FC in the first round of the play-offs meant a season that had started so memorably finished on a low.
Yet the general feeling was that the Giants were starting to get things back on track.
That acid test will obviously come in 2013.