Towards the end of the year they became a lightning rod for all of the ills, past, present and future of professional cycling.
But Astana hardly help themselves when the man most closely associated the team and Kazakh national program, Alexandre Vinokourov, remains their "capo di tutti capi".
After two doping positives at Astana, and a few more at the Kazakh feeder squad, Vino and the team are currently subject to a deep inquiry by the International Cycling Union into its anti-doping efforts, which its hoped will effect change or administer an unlikely penalty. The findings are due sometime this month.
But under pressure, Vino has taken to hiding behind the skirts of a largely toothless tiger called the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme CrÃ©dible (MPCC).
Last year he cynically used the MPCC "rules" as cover which allowed Astana to participate in its home race, the Tour of Almaty, before engineering a ceremonial self sacrifice at the late and unlamented Tour of Beijing.
Today, with the MPCC membership card crumpled up in his back pocket, Vino jumped out of the bushes and squeezed off a few rounds in the direction of Sky and BMC in defence of the troubled history of his team, while threatening to take his ball and go home if the other kids won't play.
"It's too easy that many people just point at us," Vinokourov told De Telegraaf. "I have had discussions about this with Roger Legeay, the president of the MPCC.
"We are affiliated with the MPCC and do everything to prevent our riders from doping.
"Teams like BMC and Team Sky talk about doping but they refuse to join the MPCC.
"They have riders who have taken cortisone but they refuse to act. How harmful is that for the image of cycling?
"If the other organisations have not joined by the end of the year I'm considering resigning.
"Credibility is something everyone needs to work with.
"We have all our doors open. Anyone who wants to know something is welcome. We are credible."
So exactly what would happen if the other kids in the playground refused to join the MPCC and Astana were to leave? Absolutely nothing.
The MPCC is a self-policing organisation that often looks more like an appendix; serving no useful purpose in professional cycling, except perhaps to give a veneer of respectability to a variety of miscreants in the sport.
It may be a temporary bad look for Astana but would have zero material effect. The MPCC could do nothing except wag a finger and there would be no sanction. The team would still line up for every WorldTour race.
The reality is that Astana are still subject to the far more stringent UCI and WADA process, with Sky and BMC included. And that's what really matters, not the MPCC.