That Leeds won all of those – 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 – only adds to the reasons why Saints will be eager to inflict more pain on the West Yorkshire club’s current team this evening. The 2016 Rhinos vintage has endured a miserable start with just one win from six for the depleted defending champions.
The tables have turned yet for Rob Burrow – their acting-captain who twice won man-of-the-match in those Old Trafford showpieces – tonight represents a perfect opportunity to kick-start the Rhinos’ ailing campaign.
“You don’t want to get cut adrift,” admitted the former Great Britain hooker, aware that a difficult start could soon become a worrying one.
“We’ve lost more than our fair share already and need to address things immediately; that starts for us on Friday against St Helens in another huge game.
“There’s no better place to come and play than Headingley, and the games with Saints are usually great here.
“We need no incentive to perform anyway but against Saints at Headingley is a fantastic prospect – if that doesn’t give us motivation, nothing will.
“We need to be at our best as they’ve quality all over the park.”
Leeds’ hopes of rediscovering their best - they were far from that when losing 28-6 at Wigan Warriors last week – are augmented with the potential return of four players this evening.
Crucially, captain Danny McGuire will feature for the first time since injuring his knee in the season opener against Warrington, while fellow England international Carl Ablett, Joel Moon and Brett Delaney all return after varying lay-offs.
Burrow, 33, added: “We haven’t had some players in recent weeks but I feel the squad is still good enough to be winning games.
“The fact those guys are coming back now can only be a positive. We’re disappointed we didn’t show the real us at Wigan – it was one of those nights where nothing seemed to go right – but we’ve chance to correct that quickly versus another really good side.”