When Down overcame Mayo earlier this year the result served to stop the rot in an Allianz League campaign that had been threatening to veer wildly off course for the Mournemen.
Yet if they can repeat the feat against the Connacht champions on Saturday this will prove a giant step in their quest for the ultimate glory.
Stinging defeats inflicted by Cork and Kerry had sent Down to McHale Park, Castlebar on their league mission burdened by apprehension.
But a stirring performance was to signal a renaissance that helped to cement Down’s position in Division One for another term.
Nor is it deemed coincidence within the county that of the eight teams who remain in the hunt for ‘Sam’ seven played in the top bracket this year with the remaining side, Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare, having earned promotion for the 2013 competition.
This substantiates the belief that, in what has been a season of shocks in the earlier rounds of the provincial championships and qualifiers, the cream will eventually come to the top.
Down liaison officer John Devaney is in no doubt that Mayo in particular are reaping the benefits of their extended residency among the elite.
“When you look at it, Mayo have won the last two Connacht titles and they beat Kerry in the league semi-final this year to reach the decider for the second time in three years,” points out Devaney.
“They had a very emphatic win over Dublin along the way, too. This surely underlines their consistency and their appetite.
“And when it is considered that their manager James Horan has instilled a physicality and work-rate within the side that Mayo maybe did not have in the past, it can be seen that they are a formidable force.”
In that league defeat to Down earlier this year, Mayo lost their midfield strongman Aidan O’Shea to a red card.
Injury subsequently further disrupted his season but he was introduced as a second-half substitute against Sligo in the Connacht final and played a key role in stabilising his side when they looked in grave danger against the Yeats County.
O’Shea could have a key role against Down and Devaney is wary of the threat he will pose.
“He is a big player for them in every sense of the word,” cautions the Mourne official. “
He is capable of dominating the middle third of the pitch but then again our own Ambrose Rogers was very impressive in the win over Tipperary last Saturday so we won’t be fearful of Mayo.
“I think on any given day we have as good a midfield as there is in the country.”