The 2002-3 season was greeted with huge excitement by the Bristol Shoguns faithful.
After all, they were about to embark upon their first ever Heineken Cup season having got to the Zurich Championship final in May.
Who would have guessed that, several months later, the club would be staring at oblivion?
The cracks started to appear in the close season. Head Coach Dean Ryan headed up the A48 to Gloucester, Jack Rowell resigned as Director of Rugby and returned to Bath whilst skipper Jason Little retired.
Well respected Kiwi, Peter Thorburn, took over the coaching reins but claimed that the team were several weeks behind in their preseason preparations. This was endorsed when the team lost their opening four Zurich Premiership fixtures.
An amazing 14 man win over Leicester was followed by a first foray into the Heineken Cup and a superb, televised win over Montferrand was the highlight.
League form was mixed but there were more wins than defeats including a momentous first league win at Bath.
But Christmas saw a double bombshell. Owner Malcolm Pearce announced that he would quit at the end of the season. Thorburn named a weakened team to take on Rotherham in the Powergen Cup and the Shoguns crashed out.