It was a night where President Cyril Ramaphosa would be facing a disillusioned nation and a fiery opposition. He could use a little extra star power - and he got it, in the shape of Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
In the days leading up to SONA 2020, it looked highly likely that a former president was going to dominate headlines and disrupt Cyril Ramaphosa's big night.
And so it proved to be. It was just another former president who turned out to be the fly in the ointment.
In the end, Jacob Zuma did not make the trip from his Cuban medical facility to attend the State of the Nation Address, in conflict with a bout of premature tweeting from Parliament which caused officials much embarrassment and clear frustration.
It was apartheid's last ruler, FW de Klerk, who would take up the mantle of the most divisive former leader in the room.
There had been some signs that this might be the case: the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison had occasioned the spotlight to fall once again on De Klerk. Consistent in the latest expressions of support...