It was as if nothing had changed at the Scottish Championships, as a wonderfully organised event in Perth Concert Hall was rounded off with what has become the almost traditional battle for the top section honours between Whitburn and Co-operative Funeralcare Bands.
Between them they have won the title every year since 2008, and here, despite being drawn as the first two to play Kevin Norbury's 'Odyssey' in a field of nine contenders, few believed that the Hannaford Jubilee Trophy and accompanying silverware was going to end up anywhere other than in one or the others trophy cabinet.
And so it proved, although in the end the only thing that did change was the see-sawing nature of their collective run of successes, as Whitburn led by Prof Nicholas Childs became the first band to retain the title since 2010 with close fought victory over their 'auld rivals.
Both will head to Kensington heartened by their latest qualification performances; the defending champion extending their recent run of excellent form to secure a 20th Scottish Championship title as well as book their place as the nation's representative at the 2019 European Championship in Montreux.
In addition, Prof Childs retained his grip on the Walter Hargreaves Trophy as winning conductor after notching up a record ninth Championship success (overtaking the great Major Peter Parkes in the process), whilst Chris Bradley (principal cornet), Paul Kiernan (solo trombone) and the percussion section all left with richly deserved individual awards.
"My congratulations go to everyone involved with Whitburn," Prof Childs later told 4BR. "Anne Crookston did a fantastic job in preparing the band, so it was easy for me to come in and work with players who are performing with such confidence.
I've always enjoyed my trips north of the border, so it's nice to win here for a ninth time, but this success is all down to the hard work and commitment of everyone at Whitburn. Now the focus will be on the European Championship in Utrecht which I'm really looking forward to."
For Co-operative Funeralcare, a seemingly troubled past 12 months was put behind them as they came tantalisingly close to upsetting the form book under Russell Gray; adjudicators Paul Holland and Michael Ball later revealing to 4BR that it was only the scrappiness of a pacey final section that saw them fall short.
As Paul stated in his pre-results remarks, the top-two performances "stood out", with the runner-up just "a little too frantic" in the closing section. It was however, "very close".
That may have given Co-op some comfort (if any can be gained to losing to a great rival), as they also picked up awards for their tubas, flugel and baritone for a performance that seemed for the most part to be heading for ultimate success.
With the heavyweights in a battle of their own, and with the withdrawal of former champion Kirkintilloch (the last band to break the Whitburn/Co-op duopoly), it was left to a delighted Kirkintilloch Kelvin to head the rest of the hard-working field — posting their best ever result with a stylish account under MD Charles Keenan.
Bo'ness & Carriden, rounded off a variable contest (described by Paul as "broken into three distinct groups") in terms of overall quality in fourth, although he did say that every band emerged with merit from "a good test", especially both Bathgate and Tullis Russell Mills who ended in the bottom places.
High class quality
For Whitburn though, an award of merit has long been replaced by those that come with the stamp of universally recognised high class quality, as they retained their stranglehold over domestic rivals (they have not been beaten by any Scottish band since the Land of Burns contest in 2016) in a manner that could well lead to further major championship recognition in 2018.
I've always enjoyed my trips north of the border, so it's nice to win here for a ninth time, but this success is all down to the hard work and commitment of everyone at WhitburnProf Nicholas Childs.
Test Piece: Odyssey (Kevin Norbury)
Adjudicators: Paul Holland & Dr Michael Ball
1. Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs) — 94**
2. Co-operative Funeralcare (Russell Gray) — 93*
3. Kirkintilloch Kelvin (Charles Keenan) — 90
4. Bo'ness & Carriden (Lee Skipsey) — 89
5. Bon Accord Silver (Stephen Malcolm) — 88
6. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan) — 87
7. Dalmellington (Richard Evans) — 85
8. Bathgate (Anne Crookston) — 83
9. Tullis Russell Mills (Tony George) — 82
*Qualify for National Final at Royal Albert Hall
** Whitburn qualifies to represent Scotland at the 2019 European Championship in Montreux
Flugel: Co-operative Funeralcare
Bass Section: Co-operative Funeralcare
Bass: EEb bass (Dalmellington)
Baritone: Co-operative Funeralcare
Percussion Section: Whitburn