Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet will go into the FA Cup third-round battle with former club Leeds saddened by their fall from grace.
Less than 14 years ago, the men from Elland Road, with the likes of Nigel Martyn, Rio Ferdinand, Jonathan Woodgate, David Batty and Mark Viduka among their ranks, made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
However, the intervening years have brought financial collapse and chaos on and off the field, and the recovery process is only partially complete.
Poyet spent a year at Leeds working as then manager Dennis Wise's assistant between 2006 and 2007, and retains a huge fondness for a club whose fortunes provide a salutary lesson.
"It's sad because I think they have got everything to be in the Premier League - they should be in the Premier League - but they are paying the price of two or three incredible years at the highest level," said Poyet.
"It was well done, it was achievable, but as soon as they went down, there was so much money spent that to recover from that, you never know if you need three, five, 10 or 15 years and that's why they are still paying that price. All the enjoyment of that Champions League moment - now it's the other side, the darker side, and it's not easy. They are on the way back, but it's taking a little bit longer than I would have expected, to be honest."
Leeds currently sit in 20th place in the Championship table, just a point above the relegation zone and with manager Neil Redfearn - the third man to hold the post this season - reportedly under pressure after a run of five defeats in seven games.
Sunderland are themselves on a frustrating run of form, having won just one but lost only three of their last 10 Premier League matches.
However, a gruelling festive programme has left Poyet's resources stretched to the limit, particularly at the back, and he knows today's tie, which rekindles memories of the famous FA Cup final meeting between the two clubs in 1973, will be no walkover.
"It's a difficult game. It's a tricky one because it all depends how the game starts and how good you are on the day. We cannot relax. We need to be better on the ball, we need to impose our quality and difference between a Premier League player and a Championship player, it's as simple as that. Then we will see."
Poyet will be without midfielder Lee Cattermole, who has a groin injury, but he has a ready-made replacement in Liam Bridcutt following his recovery from concussion.
But three games in a week over Christmas and the New Year have taken their toll, in particular on defenders John O'Shea, Wes Brown and Santiago Vergini, and there could be changes, although the 47-year-old Uruguayan will pay full respect to a competition which is close to his heart.
"I played in the Copa del Rey, I played in the Coupe de France - I played in the cup in different countries and it doesn't mean too much, I promise you," he said. "Here, it means a lot. We know how important it is and if you get through the first two or three rounds, you are there, so the idea is to play.
"That's why I want to play the strongest team without playing any injured players. We will try to make sure we do the best thing. It's not easy. Especially at the back, it's tough, but we will try our best."
Sunday Indo Sport