Why Britain's cyclists were the real team of 2011
In these straitened times it is vital that we make the most of what we have. It is also important that we take time, amid all this austerity, to enjoy the good bits properly and applaud those who have cheered us up.
So I am going to cast my mind back to the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show one more time and highlight a team performance that has received almost no mainstream recognition but should be up there with English football's 1966, rugby union's 2003 or the British Olympic team's 2008.
Don't get me wrong, SPOTY's team of the year, the England men's cricket team, were superb in 2011 - top of the rankings, a fine summer and a thumping Ashes win Down Under - but they were not my team of the year for the simple reason that another side "played" better.
Their champagne moment came when Mark Cavendish crossed the line to win Britain's first men's road race world title for 46 years. To him go the jersey, fame and new contract, but the glory is shared.
Cavendish conquered Copenhagen but says he would not have done it without "not just the best performance by a British team at a World Championships but the best performance by any team at a World Championships in history".
To explain why British cycling's biggest star believes this you need to understand a few things about this apparently individual sport.
First, six hours is a long time on a bike but it is an eternity if you have nobody to hide behind.
Cycling behind somebody is about 20% easier than riding at the front. There, you punch a hole through the air for everybody else to slip through.
Thoroughbreds like Cavendish are kept fresh for the final gallop and spared hole-punching duties.
Second, if you need a bottle of water, don't worry. Your buddy will drop back to the team car (there's that word 'team' again) to get it and then pedal back to the pack to save you the effort.
Puncture a tyre, don't fret, a couple of pals will wait for you to get a new wheel and then pace you back to the bunch. Break your bike? Don't panic. One of those guys will give you theirs.
Third, let's just say you are renowned for having the best finish in the business. Let's just say you are practically unbeatable if the entire field arrives at the end of a long day and the final mile is flat.
Let's just say you are Cavendish and you have only one plan: make sure the race ends with a bunch sprint.
As plans go, it is a good 'un. The 26-year-old has won 20 stages of the Tour de France in four years, among other big wins, and is on course to beat the great Eddy Merckx's all-time tally of 34 Tour stages.
But this plan is hardly a secret. In fact, there would have been nobody in the 210-strong field in Copenhagen who did not know it and about 200 of those riders would have been doing everything in their power to foil it.
Their counter-plan would have been to break away, get a gap and hold on in a cartoon-like chase, where the only question is what comes first, the finish line or the rest of the race.
But that did not happen in the Danish capital for the simple reason that Cavendish's team-mates would not let it.
OK, one or two riders enjoyed a lap out in front but they did not last long, such was the fearsome pace set by the British riders, who formed an express train at the front of the pack and said "escape that".
Steve Cummings, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Froome and David Millar all put in stellar shifts early on, with Millar acting as captain, seeing everything, reacting, plotting.
And then, when the race was at its most frantic, Bradley Wiggins, who a few days earlier had won a silver medal in the time trial, took control with a lap at the front that won him nothing but the respect of every cyclist watching and Cavendish's eternal gratitude.
It was cycling's equivalent of flanker Richard Hill's unseen heroics at the 2003 Rugby World Cup or Nobby Stiles's marking job on Eusebio in the 1966 semi-final against Portugal.
But all of Cavendish's team-mates, none of whose names appear in the records beside his, were riding for a common cause: keep the race together for 259km and then get out of the way.
That brings me to the final point that has to be made about the team. What happened that bright September day was the culmination of a three-year plan to assemble the best line-up ever fielded by Britain in the championships' 84-year history.
As soon as Copenhagen was chosen to stage the race, British Cycling's bosses knew their once-in-a-generation sprinter had a chance provided he had support.
An emerging cycling nation, Britain had previously struggled at the Worlds against the traditional powers and their full-strength teams. The top eight countries get nine riders, the weakest just one.
A year before, any hope Cavendish had of victory in Melbourne disappeared the moment it was confirmed he would have only two lieutenants.
Throughout 2011, every British pro scrapped for every possible qualification point. The result was Cavendish plus seven.
"It wasn't just the guys who were there," said the landslide winner of SPOTY's individual award.
"It was all the British riders who worked hard to secure the eight spots, picking up points in every little race, working to get enough spots to do what we wanted to do: control the race for 260km."
The funny thing is that all that work, all that planning, almost came apart in the last minute of the race. But truly great team performances nearly always contain a spark of individual genius.
So, carefully protected for 99% of the race, Britain's first Tour de France points winner found himself alone, boxed in against a kerb and trailing his quickest rivals.
"I actually hit my wheels on the kerb, bam!" he recalled. "I went to go again and hit the kerb again. I just thought that after what the guys had done for me I either win, or have the biggest crash of my career trying."
Hemmed in on the right just as the road narrowed and every country's sprint champion was surging forward, Cavendish stayed calm.
He knew the wind was coming from the back right and space would appear on his side of the road.
But whose wheel should he follow? In a moment of pure instinct, Cavendish left his last two team-mates, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas, let Australian rider Matt Goss through and immediately latched on to his slipstream.
"I knew Goss was the fastest man out there, so even though I had my team-mates I wanted to be on his wheel," he recalled.
"I got boxed in but I knew a gap would open and I didn't hesitate when it did. Goss did and that's why I got the jump on him."
That it was what world champions are made of and this world champion was made in Britain, to a British plan, with British components.
With apologies to Andrew Strauss and co (and perhaps Formula 1's Red Bull too), the British men's road race team had a 1966 kind of year - and we haven't had many of those.As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/mattslaterbbc