Andy Murray was the hottest favourite to win the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year since Andrew Flintoff scooped the famous trophy back in 2005 - and it's hard to imagine a more deserving winner.
Hard, but apparently not impossible.
That's because researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University have come up with a novel idea for future winners that might just throw the field wide open in years to come: it's time to expand the field beyond the limits of human endeavour.
Before you start assuming the researchers in question - Dr Kate Dashpher and Dr Thomas Fletcher - had simply overindulged on the punch at the faculty Christmas party, they apparently wrote up a full research paper that was published in the journal 'Sport in History'.
Their key theme? That a horse could one day win the award.
Now, we're fairly sure that BBC rules would preclude such an eventuality - perhaps a mere technicality such as the fact that being a "person" might be said to be an essential part of having a "personality".
Even if no rule is in place to enforce that, the Beeb would no doubt invent one, as they did back in 1991: that year, angling legend Bob Nudd received by far the highest number of votes (over 100,000), but was denied the title when the BBC arbitrarily ruled him out of the running on the basis that they didn't think he was a proper contender.
But the argument is an interesting one, nonetheless - and we don't even think that they should stop at horses. Here's our list of the top five things that should one day win BBC Sports Personality of the Year, starting with the animals that prompted this list in the first place…
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1. A Horse
Doctors Dashper and Fletcher argued in their paper that a horse should be able to win the SPOTY title because they can become iconic figures among the public. Red Rum and Desert Orchid are two that spring straight to mind, but Kauto Star is the example the Leeds academics chose to illustrate their point:
"Like any sporting hero, Kauto Star has an interesting story which compels supporters, fans and the general public, with ups and downs in his career. He has flaws, a rival and influential people in the racing world fighting his corner in the media," said Dashper. "He has had statues created in his honour and is still paraded around and talked about, with the racing public feeling like he is their horse and not just a distant winner."
And most important of all, they point out how he can't mess things up by doing something that antagonises the public: "Although icon status is a very human idea, it does fit very well with Kauto Star. In a way, it is inappropriate as he can't tell his own story and add any interpretation; but he also becomes untouchable as he can't do or say anything to cause a scandal and tarnish his reputation."
That line will strike a chord with anyone who remembers Darren Clarke in 2006: he was a shoo-in favourite after his starring role in the Ryder Cup just two months after the death of his wife, Heather; but a Sunday tabloid headline on the morning of the show showing him with his new girlfriend ("Darren's new birdie") saw his popularity plunge enough to see him drop to second place.
2. A Formula 1 Car
For all the plaudits dished out to Sebastian Vettel, F1 fans know that the technology used by the drivers is more important than the skill of the man behind the wheel. A great driver in an awful car has no more chance than your granny would if she were behind the wheel of the all-conquering Red Bull.
And given that the sport is the ultimate fusion of man and machine, is it right that the likes of Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell have won the award while a car never has? Sadly, the ultimate chance for a British car to win the title is probably in the past: the 1988 season. That year, the McLaren driven by both Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won 15 of 16 races - and it would have been all 16 had Senna not been t-boned by an out-of-control back-marker he was overtaking just two laps from the end.
3. A match official
Lots of people complain that modern referees and umpires are all too eager to try and take the spotlight off the real stars. The Rundown does not agree. These brave, unheralded men and women are quite rightly aware of their crucial place in the drama of today's theatres of sport.
Howard Webb would have been a possible contender in 2010, had he not unfortunately failed to spot a kung-fu kick to the chest by Nigel De Jong during the World Cup final; Graham Poll might have been the man in 2006, had he not unfortunately given one player three yellow cards in the same World Cup match; and the Russian linesman from the 1966 World Cup final would have been a certain winner, if he only had the right nationality.
So instead we'll go for Sian Massey, the woman who single-handedly proved that women DO understand the offside rule, while simultaneously leading to the departures of uber-smug dinosaurs Richard Keys and Andy Gray by Sky Sports a couple of years ago.
4. A chemist
Now that Lance Armstrong has been expunged from the history books as the greatest athlete of the late 1990s and early 2000s, it's time to dish out the credit to the person who really masterminded all those Tour de France wins: the organic chemist who made the drugs that put Armstrong on top of the world.
It might not be ethical to applaud such things, and it might prove difficult to persuade a shady, backstreet scientist to step forward into the media glare of a glittering awards bash - but if that person is British, then their consistent record of achievement at the very highest level of a major sport is as worthy of celebration as anyone's.
5. A fan
It's about time that the contribution of the so-called "12th man" was properly recognised, instead of all these sports people pretending that their achievements are something that they've done all on their own.
What would England's football team be without those blokes playing the Great Escape music on repeat throughout every match? Who could have sat through all those dull World Cup matches in 2010 were it not for the relaxing tone of the vuvuzela to ramp up the excitement throughout? And as bad as England's cricket team might have been in the Ashes this winter, how much more would they have lost by without the Barmy Army cheering them on from the stands?
It's clearly difficult to single out one fan, but we reckon we're up to the task: step forward Manchester United supporter Peter Bolton, who is just a few months away from chalking up a perfect 40 years without missing a Red Devils game; he even missed his brother's wedding to watch United. And though he had a bit of a slow start turning his cheers into success, after just 19 years of cheering the side on he roared them into an era of unprecedented dominance that saw them collect 13 titles in 20 years (success that many wrongly attributed to the players and the manager). Peter, you are indeed a worthy winner.