Colin Montgomerie has assembled the most powerful European team in Ryder Cup history at Celtic Manor and, with the assistance of an accomplished backroom staff, has rediscovered what Graeme McDowell calls ‘the X-factor'.
Exhaustive efforts have been made over the past two years to learn from that hiccup in Kentucky and, judging by the eye-popping enthusiasm and kevlar confidence in the European locker room right now, they have not been in vain.
Fittingly, Montgomerie arranged for a video link with Seve Ballesteros on Tuesday and all 12 players who sat entranced through the Spaniard's passionate address can, from today, bring his unflinching, unyielding spirit back into play at the Ryder Cup.
The flame Ballesteros lit all those years ago was snuffed out in Valhalla but should be restored to former glory this weekend as Seve's successors not only beat Corey Pavin's US team but do so with a lot more comfort than many might suspect on a golf course that suits them to a tee.
McDowell made his debut on Nick Faldo's team two years ago but, in a sense, he and other rookies on that occasion were denied a taste of playing for the real Europe at the Ryder Cup.
Yet Ulster’s US Open Champion and his team-mates at Celtic Manor have revelled all this week in what Lee Westwood describes as the most inspiring locker-room atmosphere he's felt in six visits to the Ryder Cup.
“I think there was a lot of passion at Valhalla but I don't think it was guided in the right direction at times,” said Westwood. “I think we could have pulled it together a lot better as a team.
“We're all working in the same direction here for sure,” he added. “This is one of the best atmospheres I've experienced at the Ryder Cup.”
Fully recovered from the calf muscle tear which has sidelined him since the Bridgestone World Golf Championship at Firestone, Westwood asked his captain for the honour of leading Europe into action for the first time today.
And Monty granted the 37-year-old Englishman his wish, in the process shelving plans to open with Northern Irish aces Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell this morning.
Yet McDowell, McIlroy and Padraig Harrington will all see action in an opening session of fourballs which give the home team a gilt-edged opportunity to take a clear lead in the match.
Westwood has been paired with Martin Kaymer in a fascinating fourball with Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.
“To hit the first shot for Europe at the Ryder Cup is an honour and one which Lee deserves,” said Monty, who nominated the Irish pair for the second game, where they'll encounter in-form rookie Matt Kuchar and 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink.
Surprisingly, Pavin kept dynamic Presidents Cup duo, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker for the third game. Was he hiding the Tiger or did the US captain simply outsmart himself in a bid to give Woods a crack at McIlroy?
Monty expressed satisfaction that McIlroy now will have an opportunity to ease himself into the Ryder Cup action, saying: “I'm happy he hasn't been drawn with Tiger. I'm sure they'll meet at some stage but it's good for Rory to get a game under his belt first.”
McDowell laughed when asked if ‘Rory Wigs’ might be donned on the first tee. “I was thinking about that but maybe not,” he said.
With 2000 people expected to sit in the grandstand which is wrapped around three sides of the first tee and some 45,000 spectators on the course the atmosphere at Celtic Manor should match the K Club in 2006 for raw passion and excitement.
The one guy who'll revel on this stage is Ian Poulter, who teams up with his regular World Cup comrade Ross Fisher for a dream clash with Woods and Stricker.
“It's going to be a hell of a match, I cannot wait,” he said. “If ever there was a match you'd want to play it's against their best two players. The crowd is going to be electric and the roar on the first tee will be sensational ... I can't wait to give them some feedback.”
Perhaps Pavin's most surprising decision was to send out a pair of rookies, Bubba Watson and Geoff Overton, in the final fourball, to the exclusion of Valhalla veteran Hunter Mahan or last Sunday's FedEx Cup-winner Jim Furyk.
In terms of experience, wild cards Luke Donald and Harrington have an advantage in this game.
“It's great to play with Luke from my standpoint,” said Harrington. “His consistency, especially on some of the tougher holes, enables me to open up a little more. It's worked well in practice this week and I think we can trust one another to do our thing.”
Though he expects Pavin to use Mahan and Furyk in the afternoon foursomes, Monty said he was “surprised” to see the final US pairing..
Europe bring six rookies into Ryder Cup, the most since Brookline in 1999 and one more than the Americans this weekend.
Yet Westwood hit the nail on the head when he said: “One of them (Kaymer) is a Major Champion; two have won the last two qualifying events (Peter Hanson and Edoardo Molinari); one is about as steady as it gets from tee to green (Francesco Molinari) and the final one is World Match Play Champion (Fisher).”
And the other is McIlroy.
The 2010 Course, where McDowell won the Welsh Open in spectacular fashion in June, is a typical European Tour track with slow greens and flanked by bottomless rough, which requires the biggest-hitting US Ryder Cup team in history to hit it straight — or else.
Europe's 12 hugely motivated stars can hand the States their stripes.