The last time the Seattle Seahawks won a divisional playoff game, they were in the position now occupied by the New Orleans Saints.
It was January 2006, and the Redskins had beaten Seattle in overtime three months earlier at Washington – the Seahawks' last loss before reeling off an 11-game win streak to secure a first-round bye.
"We looked at it as, 'Hey, listen, that team beat us last time.' It gives you a little extra motivation," former Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson, the seven-time Pro Bowl pick, told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday.
"The Saints are probably thinking a little bit along the same lines – 'They embarrassed us at their place last time.' Football's just as much mental as it is physical. You've got to be up for it. It's not like it's a Week 13 game and you're overlooking this for another game. This is do-or-die."
The stakes were not as high on Dec. 2 at CenturyLink Field, though the intensity was palpable as the Seahawks squashed the Saints 34-7 on primetime national television and planted their stake as NFC front-runners.
Seattle took a 17-point lead in the first quarter, ramping up the volume from an ever-boisterous crowd of 68,387. The Saints went into catch-up mode and generated just 188 net yards in a pedestrian day for star quarterback Drew Brees.
Preparations for Saturday's rematch – this time a divisional playoff game – began Tuesday with a Seahawks logo painted on the Saints' practice field, yet another reminder how much better New Orleans needs to be than even last week, when they edged the Eagles 26-24 in Philadelphia.
"We are just trying to create the exact environment, the crowd noise, the field, everything, as best as we can," Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters.
The best way to quiet things down is to get an early lead. Then again, that didn't get the Saints anywhere in their previous trip to Seattle – a 41-36 wild-card playoff loss after the 2010 season in a game New Orleans led by 10 points in the early going.
"Besides the fact they've got a great team, Seattle is tough. The elements always come into play, the fan noise, rain and everything," former NFL safety Darren Sharper, who was on that 2010 Saints team, told USA TODAY Sports.
"I remember vividly the first play of the game when the Saints played them this year, it's like that (Seahawks) defensive line and that defense as a whole was shot out of a rocket."
Sharper knows well that regular-season success against an opponent doesn't always carry over to the postseason. He was on the Green Bay Packers team that beat the Minnesota Vikings twice in the 2004 season, only to lose 31-17 in the third meeting, a wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field.
The past three Super Bowl champions each avenged a regular-season loss with a road victory on its way to the title. The New York Giants did it twice, knocking off the Packers and San Francisco 49ers after the 2011 season. The Baltimore Ravens were routed 34-17 by the Broncos on their home field less than a month before pulling a divisional playoff upset at Denver.
"It was like the first thing I addressed in our team meeting when we came back together," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told news reporters, "was what has happened in the past doesn't tell the story of what's going to happen in the future. … You have to have a discipline to do that."
Are the Seahawks that much better than the Saints? Or did Seattle pull out all the stops and play a near-perfect game in the first meeting?
Either way, Hutchinson said, the key is which team learns more from the previous meeting. It was the Seahawks back in January 2006, when they won the rematch with the Redskins 20-10, then rolled over the Carolina Panthers a week later to earn the franchise's only Super Bowl bid.
"Obviously, the Saints feel like they're at a disadvantage because they lost last time. Maybe their mental focus is a little sharper, just because they don't want to repeat that," Hutchinson said.
"Sometimes, you can get lulled to sleep, because you almost start thinking, 'Well, it doesn't matter what we do, we're going to win.' Hopefully, the Seahawks don't think that just because the crowd was into it and Drew Brees had obviously a hard time communicating and he made some uncharacteristic mistakes, it's going to be like that second time around."