The prospect of facing Super League high-fliers Castleford Tigers in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup does not cause Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston any apprehension.
It should come as no surprise. As a player, he was the architect of the most famous upset in the competition’s long history, inspiring Sheffield to victory in the 1998 final against mighty Wigan.
The odds against them winning at Castleford on Sunday are certainly not as high and the South Yorkshire club will quietly fancy their chancesk.
They are also keen to make up for last year’s disappointment when the Championship Grand Final winners did reach the Challenge Cup quarter-finals only to flounder badly against Super League strugglers London Broncos.
“We got as far as we have done in recent years then, but it was probably one of our worst performances of the season,” recalled Aston.
“We enjoyed last year, and got a lot of publicity and profile from our run, and then we let ourselves down.
“We could have won that game – I think we all knew that – so we want to give ourselves another shot this season.
“We will have to be very good because Cas’ are on fire and are one of the best teams in Super League.
“But of course we’ve got a chance. As a coach you set up to win every week – you don’t go out to lose – so we’ll see what we can do.”
Castleford coach Daryl Powell knows all too well how to generate a shock himself.
He was in charge at Championship club Featherstone Rovers when they dumped his current employers out of the competition in 2012.
Aston – a former team-mate of the ex-Great Britain star’s at Sheffield – admitted: “Daryl plotted the downfall of Castleford a couple of years ago, and so I’m sure they will be mindful of that.
“I’m delighted he has got the job there, being a local lad and playing local players.
“He’s back in the Super League where he belongs and I’m happy for him – he’s a great friend of mine.”
Aston, of course, hails from Castleford himself and knows just what rugby league means to its townsfolk.
The way the draw is shaping up, with at least two Championship clubs guaranteed to make the last eight, they will be envisaging their own first trip to Wembley since losing to Wigan in 1992.
But Aston added: “We are really looking forward to the challenge, going to a great ground with plenty of atmosphere and I think the boys will really soak that up and enjoy it. I know I will.”