TORONTO - Back and forth they went, misfiring, looking inept with neither team showing any willingness to impose its will by taking the game by the throat.
If everything goes according to plan, these same two teams are destined to meet for yet the fourth time in one season when the CFL post-season kicks off.
The outcome isnít likely to change, but thankfully the venue will.
The Argos donít deserve to host a playoff game, at least not until they put on the field an offence that can actually threaten defences, entertain fans and score points, none of which is capable until a legitimate three-down quarterback is acquired.
Why it took Hamilton so long to finally settle this unsettled night isnít sure, but the best news to emerge from Friday is that Hammer will play host to the Eastern semifinal.
The chances of the Ticats not hosting the game are about as likely as it unlikely for Cleo Lemon to suddenly become comfortable when lining up in a shotgun, surveying the field and making any kind of play.
It would become a rout, finally exposing what these Argos are and what they are not, sounding the alarms for changes that can now only be engineered in the off-season.
For the Argos, this has become a lost season with Friday being the low point.
For the Ticats, the only thing standing between a meeting with the Als in Montreal for a shot at the Grey Cup is complacency and offensively inefficiency.
The Argos donít match up well against a Ticat team that nullifies Cory Boyd, who fumbled and was stopped short on a third and short.
Kevin Glenn wasnít exactly on target, but with so many chances it was almost inevitable heíd finally hook up, which he did.
The magnitude of the evening wasnít lost on Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille.
ďIf you get the win,íí he said on the eve of Fridayís kickoff, ďit puts you (in a favourable position) not because you have the plus-two points, but because you also have the tiebreaker.
ďFor us, it is a four-point game. Thatís just the reality of the situation. It doesnít guarantee you anything, but it certainly gets you a lot closer to where you want to be.Ē
The way the Ticats began the night, they should have been somewhere studying additional film on the Argos defence.
Glenn, inexplicably, was picked off by Jordan Younger on Hamiltonís opening possession, setting a tone for the first half marred by inferior quarterback play by both teams.
The Argos would turn the turnover into a field goal, a sequence featuring a rare completion by Lemon that was produced, no less, on a busted play.
So one-dimensional is the Argosí offence that all the Ticats had to do was avoid turning the ball over by giving the hosts a short field.
Glenn would later be picked off for the second time in the first half, but a least it came in the waning seconds, a turnover that forced the Argos into attempting a long field that fell short.
In two earlier wins this season against their historic rivals, the Ticats held the Argos to a combined total of 25 points.
And itís easy to see why defending the Argos is so easy, or at least it should be when Boyd looms as the only offensive threat.
Passive, indecisive, at times completely out of his element, Lemon was simply terrible, by far reaching his CFL nadir.
When he wasnít harassed, Lemon didnít know whether to run downfield or throw to a receiver on the run.
When they convened at halftime, the Ticats should have been lamenting the lost opportunities and the points they left on the field.
At intermission, Hamilton led 10-3, but it could have easily been 20-3. Hamiltonís red-zone offence escaped them, Sandro DeAngelis failed to convert when three points were required and penalties denied yards.
As poor as the Ticats looked at times, nothing compared to how putrid the Argos were on offence.
With so much at stake, a lot more was expected but so little was being produced.
It got so bad for the Argos that Barker had no choice but to pull Lemon in favour of Dalton Bell in the third quarter.
Then came a Bell interception, which allowed Hamilton to increase its advantage to 13-3, triggering a quarterback carousel that saw Lemon re-emerge.
That, in a nutshell, is all one needs in summing up the state of the Argosí quarterback position.
The best team would win, setting up the best possible scenario ó a Ticat-Argo playoff matchup in the Hammer.
Letís the hope the Argos bring an offence that isnít simply offensive.