Steve Bruce will be hoping that part of his personal history does not repeat itself when Hull City face his former club Sunderland in their FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday: his only previous venture to this stage of the competition as a manager ended in misery.
Bruce, who played in two Wembley wins with Manchester United, has not been able to replicate anything like that level of success in the dugout and his maiden sixth-round tie with Birmingham City eight years ago resulted in a 7-0 home humiliation at the hands of Liverpool. Relegation from the Premier League followed a few weeks later.
With Hull still very much in the thick of the survival fight – albeit with a six-point buffer over the final relegation spot, occupied by this weekend's opponents – it has concocted a conundrum of stick or twist for a club with neither a Cup pedigree nor a sustained top-flight past. Hull's only visit to an FA Cup semi-final came way back in 1930 – "It'd be nice to think there's still some around that went to it," smiled Bruce – while the club's only venture to Wembley in 2008, for the Championship play-off, delivered a first opportunity to mix with England's elite.
Wigan, another of his previous employers, highlighted the possibilities the competition still offers last season. The caveat to their win, of course, was their drop into the Championship. Bruce, however, appears to have been lured by potential glory and that means he will field his strongest possible team – although in-form strikers Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, whose goals at the Stadium of Light last month completed the league double over Sunderland, are cup-tied.
"The chance of an FA Cup semi-final doesn't come along too often, and we have seen great players who have not played in one. One of the greats of the game who recently left us, Sir Tom Finney, never won the FA Cup," said Bruce. "That's the point I'll make to my team: that these opportunities are rare.
"Of course, it will be great for the city, and although the club has been there in the play-offs I don't think it's quite like a semi-final or final at Wembley. If you ask the hardcore of Wigan fans, the day out and winning last May will arguably be better than staying in the Premier League for them. I am convinced of that.
"To see Wigan do it last year – I have a bias towards them, of course – was absolutely fantastic. It showed a small club could win the FA Cup. That was an afternoon to highlight the magic of the competition. I have got nowhere near it before and probably because I had a decent run at it as a player, I've been thinking: 'Don't be greedy, it's not going to happen in management.'"
Hull have had the edge over Gus Poyet's Capital One Cup finalists this season courtesy of a common feature: in each they had numerical advantages before half-time. Making it a treble by more conventional means would congest the league run-in – something Sunderland are already contending with – and potentially deliver Football League opposition, Charlton or Sheffield United, for a place in the final itself. "When you get to this stage, it's a case of 'why not?' There are only eight of us left, and while we are one of eight we've got a chance," Bruce concluded.