GRANTED, there's context. But winning back-to-back games of any description against Dublin is no meagre feat in the current climate.
Timing was the mitigation attached to Monaghan's victory last year – their clash in Clones coming just two weeks after Dublin had returned from a team holiday.
And the manner of it... where Dublin led by six points midway through the first half and still four at half-time, suggested a team still battling jet-lag or at least, early-season rust.
For various reasons then, the 2018 victory on the last day of the Division 1 programme was much more impressive.
For a start, the game was played in Croke Park, the venue where Dublin put 10, 11 and 17 points in Monaghan in three of their previous four meetings there.
With that win, they brought to an end Dublin's unbeaten sequence, extended through 12 league and championship matches.
It transpired to be Dublin's only competitive defeat of 2018.
Dublin weren't quite at maximum strength but the blend of relative youth and deep experience on the team sheet looked something similar to the side that Dessie Farrell will likely field tomorrow evening in Croke Park.
Already, Monaghan have the distinction of being the only team to record back-to-back victories over Jim Gavin's Dublin. Extending that run to three - and in doing so, inflicting a first defeat of the Dessie Farrell era - would amount to an even more impressive achievement.
Séamus McEnaney (1st season, 2nd stint)
THERE was, initially at least, mild surprise locally that after seven seasons of impressive top-level competitiveness under Malachy O'Rourke, McEnaney was coming back to manage Monaghan.
Since he vacated the post himself in 2010, Monaghan had gone to another, more elevated level, winning two Ulster titles in 2013 and '15 and becoming a regular fixture in the last eight of the championship.
McEnaney meanwhile, managed Meath and Wexford with no joy in either county before overseeing the Monaghan minors winning last year's Ulster Championship.
Vitally, he has constructed a highly-skilled, multi-faceted backroom team.
Credited by many for Tyrone's development into one of the game's most athletic teams, Peter Donnelly came on board, juggling his new role with one at Ulster rugby. Kilcoo's Conor Laverty is another well-regarded coach, working as Trinity College's GAA Development Officer while former Tyrone stopper John Devine will work as the team's goalkeeping coach.
McEnaney suggested after Monaghan's one-point loss to Galway on the League's opening day that his team would require greater tactical variety in how they defended depending on the opposition.
In Salthill, they effectively played Galway man-on-man, with extra bodies coming back only when tracking Galway runners.
Against Tyrone, they retreated to a 15-man shape whenever Mickey Harte's team had the ball.
Despite this, the intensity in their tackling up front was high; they turned Tyrone over eight times in their own '45 in the first half alone.
They managed to limit Tyrone to just eight points from play ];g and mostly, reduced them to attempting low-percentage scoring chances form prohibitive distances and angles.
Darren Hughes played as an orthodox sweeper on the ‘D', pushing up only on kick-outs while Ryan McAnespie, previously one of the team's dynamic ball-carrying half-forwards, has been converted into a man-marking inside back.
One statistic from last Sunday told a story about their efficiency as a defensive unit: Mark Bradley and Ronan O'Neill managed one shot between them in the whole game. And that was blocked down by Ryan Wylie.
IT'S a small sample size, but with 13 different players scoring across their two Division 1 matches to date against Galway and Tyrone, Monaghan have had the widest spread of scorers of any team in the Division so far.
It also betrays their long-held reputation as a one-man team.
Last week in Castleblaney, they ran all over Tyrone.
Mostly, Monaghan's 1-12 was forged off incessant running from defence.
Karl O'Connell, Niall Kearns (inset) and Conor Boyle – ostensibly Monaghan's full-back - repeatedly found yawning holes in the Tyrone defence, staggering their runs to create a fresh option when an attacking move lost momentum.
The mitigation was Tyrone's apparent lack of energy and uncharacteristic reluctance to track runners.
Conor McManus wasn't really a factor in that game, although he dragged Ronan McNamee away from goal and linked play neatly.
Far more involved was Conor McCarthy, who kept buzzing around the half-forward line, setting up one/twos and finished with a haul of four points from play. Jack McCarron – who scored 1-9 (4f) in a League game against Dublin in 2017 – presents another dangerous inside threat.
1. CONOR McMANUS
AN unquestioned fixture in every ‘Team of the Decade' article published at the end of last year.
McManus is the prototype inside forward; elusive with sticky hands and a technically gifted finisher off both feet.
In a decade where space for inside forwards became increasingly condensed, his ability to kick accurately on the run and/or off balance made him frequently unmarkable.
Now 33 and in his 14th season with Monaghan, McManus has had some good days against Dublin, most notably the 2016 League game when he kicked 0-12 (9f).
He has been managing a long-standing injury for the past six years, admitting in 2017 that a hip replacement was likely as a result of poor training methods during his late teens and a hip problem that went unnoticed during his younger days.
2. RORY BEGGAN
FEW things are likely to endear Dublin supporters to someone less than favourable comparison to Stephen Cluxton.
So it was in 2018, when Rory Beggan won an All Star after an impressive season, despite missing the chance to level the All-Ireland semi-final in the last minute.
The numbers suggest their output was comparable. Monaghan retained 87% of their kick-outs that summer, while Dublin gathered 86% in matches Cluxton played, although Beggan stats were higher for contested restarts.
Noticeably, he also provided ‘out ball' option, regularly leaving his goal to take position to the opposite wing to the play in order to generate an overlap for Monaghan when working the ball from defence.
Like Cluxton, his striking distance means even the most organised press must be stretched to cover the extra space behind midfield within Beggan's range.
3. KARL O'CONNELL
AN exception to Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours theory about the requisite volume of practice required to be proficient at the elite level in a chosen discipline.
Difficult though it is to fathom, O'Connell didn't play Gaelic football until he was 17-years-old.
Naturally sporty, O'Connell focused on other disciplines in his teens. He played both rugby and soccer but took naturally to athletics.
O'Connell's brother Ciarán was an international 800m runner and Karl followed his lead by joining the local athletics club, Glaslough Harriers.
An All Star in 2018, his most influential performance came against Kildare in the Super 8s when O'Connell scored three classy points from wing-back; his ability to make well-timed and angled support runs speaking of someone with an innate instinct for the game.
TOP league scorers for Monaghan 2020
1. Conor McManus 0-8 (3f, 2m)
2. Conor McCarthy 0-5 (below)
3. = Karl O'Connell 1-0
3. = Kieran Hughes 0-3
3. = Jack McCarron 0-3
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
2019 Allianz League Div 1, Clones
Monaghan 2-13 Dublin 1-13
Scorers - Monaghan: J McCarron 0-5 (4f), C McManus 0-4 (2 marks, 2f), S O'Hanlon, S Carey 1-0 each, M Bannigan 0-2 (1f, 1 mark), F Kelly, D Malone 0-1 each. Dublin: D Rock (1 mark, 1f), C O'Callaghan (1f) 0-4 each, N Scully 1-0, R Basquel 0-2, P Flynn, B Fenton, C Costello (f) 0-1 each.
2018 Allianz League Div 1, Croke Pk
Monaghan 2-12 Dublin 0-17
Scorers – Monaghan: V Corey, J McCarron 1-1 each, C McCarthy 0-3 (2f), C McManus 0-2 (1f), D Mone, K Hughes, R McAnespie, K O'Connell, F Kelly 0-1 each. Dublin: D Rock 0-7 (5f), P McMahon, B Fenton, B Howard 0-2 each, J Small, N Scully, C Basquel, D Byrne 0-1 each.
2017 All-Ireland SFC QF, Croke Pk
Dublin 1-19 Monaghan 0-12
Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 1-8 (7f, 1 ‘45), P Andrews, P Mannion 0-3 each, C O'Callaghan, J McCarthy, J McCaffrey, E O'Gara, P Flynn 0-1 each. Monaghan: C McManus 0-4 (3f), C McCarthy 0-3 (right), D Hughes, C Walshe, K O'Connell, R Beggan (1f), R McAnespie 0-1 each.
2017 Allianz League Div 1, Clones
Dublin 2-15 Monaghan 1-15
Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-4 (4f) , B Brogan 1-1, J McCaffrey 1-0, C Reddin, P Andrews, J McCarthy 0-2 each, B Fenton, C Kilkenny, P McMahon 0-1 each. Monaghan: J McCarron 1-9 (4f), K Hughes 0-2, K O'Connell, C McManus (f), F Kelly 0-1 each.
2016 Allianz League, Div 1, Croke Pk
Dublin 1-14 Monaghan 0-16
Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-7 (6f), D Connolly 1-0 (pen), P McMahon 0-2, C Costello 0-2, E O' Conghaile 0-1, P Flynn 0-1, B Brogan 0-1. Monaghan: C McManus 0-12 (9f), O Duffy 0-1, D Hughes 0-1, K Hughes 0-1, K Duffy 0-1.
DUBLIN WIN: 8
MONAGHAN WIN: 2