The prospect of Marc Marquez dramatically switching from Repsol Honda to satellite Ducati team Gresini Racing for the 2024 MotoGP was instantly enticing given the prospect of what he might be capable of again by ditching the difficult-to-ride Honda for what's currently best bike on the grid.
But, with his new team absolutely lighting up the championship in the weeks since the move was announced (both in the hands of his brother and 2024 team-mate Alex and the man Marc's replacing, MotoGP's newest race-winner Fabio Di Giannantonio), it’s suggesting that something almost unmentionable might be possible: a genuine title campaign next season.
There are, of course, three elements that would allow such a thing to happen: the bike, the rider and the speed with which they gel together.
But with everything that we know about both Marc Marquez and Gresini, there’s little doubt that all three elements are absolutely achievable ahead of the start of the 2024 season.
Firstly, the bike (and by extension, the team) is clearly up to the job of helping him win.
Marquez has undoubtedly been watching the successes of Di Giannantonio of late with his mouth watering to get going next season, as the Italian has racked up a truly impressive end to the season.
He's the third-highest points scorer of the final third of the season behind only title contenders Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin. No one had money on this soon-to-be-unemployed rider becoming a race winner this season - but that’s exactly what he’s been able to build his year up into, with the success that he’s been hinting at for some time finally coming at the penultimate round of the championship in Qatar.
That has, of course, been a part of a long and arduous project under the tutelage of veteran crew chief Frankie Carchedi, who will remain with Gresini next season to welcome Marquez into the garage.
One of the most well-respected figures in the paddock and someone who knows how to win a world championship thanks to his 2020 season with Joan Mir, Carchedi is another very important string in Marquez’s bow for this quest to return to his winning ways of the past.
It’s the rider who, rather strangely, is right now perhaps the biggest unknown.
Coming off the back of repeated injury complications that have basically wiped out the last four years of his time at Honda, it’s fair to say that Marquez’s true level has been somewhat hidden for a while.
That’s been complicated by a bike whose difficulty to ride has seemingly got a step worse every time Marquez has got a step back towards full fitness.
It’s obvious, of course, that he’s still dramatically outperforming Honda's other riders, though, and he’s been adamant of late that the high number of crashes we’ve seen from him have been a natural result of trying to keep up his intensity ahead of next year’s new challenge.
There’s still going to be an adaptation process for him as well, as he changes a career spent on one bike and one bike only in the premier class.
But consider this: his brother Alex has successfully gone from Honda also-ran in 2022 to a multiple-time sprint race winner at Gresini Ducati in 2023. If he can make that jump, then there’s no reason to assume Marc can’t make a corresponding one back to his old level.
He’s also got the added benefit of jumping onto the 2023 Desmosedici rather than the 2024 machine that the factory riders will enjoy.
A package that will finish the season fully refined and with mountains of data, it means that the only real job that Marquez’s new crew will have over testing is adding fuel and changing tyres, as he’s left free to concentrate on learning his new ride rather than stressing over its development, a job Marquez can now relegate to someone else for the first time in his career.
And while the sharp end of the championship looks very different now to how it did the last time he was healthy and on a fast bike, there’s an argument to be made that the level hasn’t been significantly raised. There's no Marquez, Casey Stoner or Valentino Rossi-level figure of yet emerging from the current crop of talent to really take things to the next level.
Rather, the current frontrunners all know that Marquez can beat them, something that will absolutely play into his hands at least psychologically if he’s in a fast enough place on track to really start engaging in mind games with them again.
Sure, we’re a very long way away from where we were five years ago as the dominant champion prepared to start yet another title defence - but right now, the signs are lining up to suggest that the old Marc Marquez might well be back in business next season.