ASK David Moyes about complacency and the FA Cup, and the chances are within 10 seconds of his reply the Everton manager has referenced Shrewsbury Town and Oldham Athletic.
The Blues boss will never forget the pain and humiliation of defeats in the competition by both those clubs, nor will he ever let his players completely erase those dark memories.
Moyes admits that the lurking fear of experiencing similar defeat again has driven him to extreme lengths in terms of preparing for FA Cup games over the last five years, but he makes no apologies for his obsessive approach.
ITV may well suspect Everton could make the same mistake as rivals Liverpool in underestimating the rough and tumble Latics, hence their decision to give the fifth round tie prime-time billing on their schedule tonight – but Moyes is in no mood to see his side’s progress in the cup prematurely halted.
He is likely to field his strongest team against the League One outfit, and his squad spent last night at a hotel preparing for the North-West showdown as if it were a high-stakes Premier League away fixture.
“When we lost to Shrewsbury (in 2003 at Gay Meadow) and Oldham (2008 at Goodison) we did all the preparation as we usually would have done.
“But nevertheless those experiences have made me even more determined to do everything possible to prevent it ever happening again.
“So that in terms of my job there’s nothing I’ve missed when it comes to doing that.
“That’s why on some occasions I’ve taken the players to the ground before the game just so they know what to expect.”
It seems a formality to inquire – and Moyes is blunt when asked if he took the Shrewsbury and Oldham defeats personally.
“I mention it in every press conference about the FA Cup, so yes,” he dead-pans.
“It was a night when you just go home, pull the curtains and sit in a dark room and don’t go out.
“You hope that you don’t get that too often. I try to prepare so it never does.”
With Moyes’ Everton future likely to remain a talking point until the summer, some have wondered whether he needs a trophy to render his Everton reign as truly special?
“I would hope people would say ‘Look how many top-10 finishes Everton have had under David Moyes compared to before’,” says the Scot.
“I think you should always be judged on your league form because it’s a consistent thing when you do your work over 10 months.
“Of course I want to win the cups. Every cup I’ve gone into I’ve tried to win it.
“Ultimately people will say, ‘yeah but... did he win a cup?’ and the answer to that will ultimately be no.
“But I think the clever people will assess the other reasons behind it. Well we had to try and beat Chelsea in a cup final, or Liverpool in a semi-final and if they did that they maybe got Chelsea again. There have been other reasons.
“Bad draws in the cup away from home can be damaging and there have been mistakes in the past like Shrewsbury and Oldham, which no doubt will be brought up.”
Moyes is unsure whether his side will face battering-ram forward Matt Smith, who did so much damage to Liverpool, with the 6ft6in striker an injury doubt but either way the Blues boss knows his side will be tested.
“We don’t know if the striker’s fit,” he says.
“He’s not played just about since that (Liverpool) game but it’s something we need to be mindful of that he’s got that ability.
“The team they played last week had a big striker in Chris Iwelumo who is a bit similar in ways. Chris came in on trial a couple of times when I was at Preston and I actually went to see him play at Aarhus in Denmark.”
The Latics have changed manager since they ensured their place in the fifth round, with Tony Philliskirk stepping in as caretaker after Paul Dickov resigned in the wake of a 3-1 defeat at Walsall a fortnight ago.
Under Philliskirk, Oldham last weekend triumphed 3-1 at home to the MK Dons, but remain in the bottom four and in the thick of a fight to avoid relegation.
Although the tie with Everton again represents a pleasant distraction for Philliskirk and his players, Moyes has some regrets about the manner of Dickov’s departure.
“I’m disappointed because I’ve know Paul Dickov for a long time and I thought once he won the tie he would probably get the opportunity to stay with it,” he says.
“But I don’t know whether it was Paul’s decision to go or not. I don’t know the ins and outs of it.
“It’s hard right now and the players don’t know who’s going to be in charge.”