Derby go into their Championship play-off semi-final first leg against Brighton as 31/50 favourites to reach the Wembley final at their foes’ expense, having done the double over Oscar Garcia’s side in regular season combat.
It would be a savage blow for the Seagulls, who were put out by bitter rivals Crystal Palace at the penultimate hurdle last term.
However, instead of walling memories of that humiliating reverse up in the darkest corners of their subconscious, Brighton should instead be looking to the Eagles’ history of mocking regular season head-to-head results in the play-offs for inspiration to land 6/5 final qualification odds.
The Seagulls 1-0 Pride Park reverse at the hands of Derby in January is actually a positive omen for the south coast club, who beat Palace 3-0 at the AMEX less than two months before the Eagles eliminated them from last year’s promotion scramble.
Palace’s surprise qualification at the hands of their sworn enemies is far from the only time the formbook has been ripped up in their play-off battles down the years either.
In 1996/97 David Hopkin’s 90th-minute curler sent the Eagles fans into Wembley raptures at the expense of a Sheffield United side that had beaten them twice without the concession of a goal during regular season hostilities.
The south-east London outfit have experienced both sides of this particular coin during their many forays into the end of season lottery down the years too.
Aiming to return to the top flight at the first attempt in 2004/05, they were instead eliminated by a Watford side against whom they’d completed a 5-1 aggregate league double as recently as March of that campaign.
Not that it’s just the Eagles who show that form during the preceding campaign is no reliable predictor of play-off victory.
In 2011/12 Blackpool dispelled memories of a 3-0 St Andrews beating to dump the Birmingham out of the semi-finals, also outplaying a West Ham side who had stuck four past them home and away earlier in the season in their undeserved final defeat.