Ryan Hoffman doesn't care what the critics think and says Melbourne's fifth NRL grand final appearance in seven years is proof the Storm are back to where they belong.
The Storm brushed aside a woeful Manly on Friday 40-12 to book a place in next Sunday's decider.
Former NSW back-rower Hoffman played a part in all five Storm sides that have reached the big one since 2006, but denied it would be a travesty if the club had nothing to show for their dominance after the Storm were stripped of their 2007 and 2009 crowns for cheating the salary cap.
Like teammate Billy Slater earlier this week, Hoffman maintains he's played in two premiership-winning sides, despite what the record books say.
But unlike many of his teammates, who have tried to steer clear of the issue, Hoffman is happy to admit there's an extra satisfaction in having a chance to a collect a winners' ring just two years after one of the biggest scandals in the history of Australian sport.
"We know what we've achieved. We're very proud of what we've achieved so far with the 2012 team," Hoffman said.
"It's water off a duck's back. It doesn't bother us what people say."
"But I'm not going to lie to you - this is special.
"We've worked hard to get back to where we think the Melbourne Storm belongs. We've only got there through hard work."
Coach Craig Bellamy bristled at the suggestion next Sunday will be the chance to make amends for what's happened in the past after the disposal of Manly.
Bellamy insists the large turnover of players at the club since 2010 means there is little remnants of the heartache that threatened the club's existence.
In addition to being forced to offload key players like Greg Inglis, Dallas Johnson, Jeff Lima and Adam Blair, the club lost sponsors and there were doubts the Storm could ever recover.
However, the Storm were able to hang on to their holy trinity of Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk with solid citizens like Hoffman and Ryan Hinchcliffe playing vital support roles.
But it is the lesser lights such as Cronulla cast-off Bryan Norrie, South Sydney reject Jaiman Lowe and Jason Ryles, discarded with a year left on his Sydney Roosters contract, who Bellamy believes are the heart and soul of his 2012 side.
Prop Norrie was shown the door by the Sharks after two uninspiring seasons and was set to resume life as an electrician in addition to a captain-coach role for Group Nine side Wagga Kangaroos.
But a call out of the blue from Bellamy changed the 29-year-old's plans and he admits he never realistically thought he'd get the chance to play in front of a crowd of more than 80,000 in the biggest game of the year.
"I thought this was a long shot a couple of years ago," Norrie said.
"You always dream, but I am just going to enjoy the week and take it all in.
"After Cronulla it looked like my career was over and I was going back on the tools.
"But I got thrown a lifeline and I have loved every minute of my time here."