Giovanni Trapattoni set off on Ireland's Euro 2012 adventure insisting their success will rest not on his glorious past but his ability to adapt to the present.
The vastly experienced 73-year-old managed his native Italy and has won league titles at home and in Germany, Portugal and Austria, and under his guidance, Ireland have made impressive strides.
But as he flew out of Dublin for a pre-tournament training camp in Montecatini, he said: "I have had many opportunities in the past also because I played in finals as a player. But that is the past. It is important that I show everyone I am still useful. That's what is important, what I can do tomorrow, what I will do in the future."
He added: "That's important because football changes and it's important I go with football. I still know about the old football. There are teams that win and there are teams like Bayern [Munich] which played better [than Chelsea] and lost the Champions League final. That's football. I follow this football, the new football."
Trapattoni's spell in charge of Italy was one of the few in his career which did not bring tangible success.
He took them to the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East - coincidentally, the last tournament for which Ireland qualified before the current campaign - but saw them eliminated by co-hosts South Korea in the second round, and after a similarly disappointing showing at Euro 2004, he was replaced by Marcello Lippi.
However, he continues to be fondly regarded at home, and his attention to detail and concentration on what he refers to as "the little details" have served Ireland well over the last four years.
Asked how different these finals will be to those he has experienced in the past, Trapattoni said: "Every four years, it changes. The referees change, the culture changes. Ten years ago, the old Ireland side played very well, but in the past 10, 12 years, it is completely different football.
"Every team now, many players play in Germany, in England, in South Africa. They play everywhere. Today, many managers go to China, to America, to South Africa. The culture is very, very important. In England, in Germany, there are many, many foreigners."
The Ireland party boarded the plane in high spirits after a 1-0 friendly victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina which was significantly more convincing than the scoreline suggests.