On Christmas Day there will be nine months to go before Pádraig Harrington's troops go into battle at Whistling Straits, and he attempts to become just the fifth man to lead Europe to Ryder Cup victory on US soil.
It's a daunting task given the American dominance of the World Rankings where they have 12 of the top-20 compared to just six Europeans.
Only Italian Francesco Molinari has managed to win five points out of five for Europe in a Ryder Cup, but Harrington knows that he has many aces up his sleeve and one of them is Rory McIlroy, who matched Christy O'Connor Snr as Irish golf's all-time top-scorer when he took his Ryder Cup tally to 13 points in that 17½-10½ win over the USA in Paris two years ago and will be expected to lead from the front in Wisconsin.
That McIlroy has again come under fire for his six-year drought in the Majors - the veteran Tom Weiskopf is the latest to take a pop at the Holywood maestro - amuses Harrington more than it concerns him.
"What makes Rory tick is when everyone is coming out against him," Harrington said, shrugging off the effect the criticism will have on his top gun.
"I should be the one sitting down at Christmas rubbing my hands together thinking, I couldn't have a better situation. The best thing with Rory is him having a point to prove.
"He'll come back stronger because of it. It's good timing for me because people getting on his back at the moment augurs very well for him playing well next year and having a great year.
"I think I said at the start of the year, Rory played so well, I felt like I wanted to wrap him up in cotton wool and keep for the Ryder Cup.
"Thankfully, I am in the opposite place. He has gone through this period for him of not having his best form and people are jumping on his back over it. So that fact that he hasn't played brilliant - by his standards - is a good sign for me next year.
"And the reality is that his form has been good and the likelihood is he will be in great form next year. If he had all the form this year, it would be hard for him to keep up that form for two years. Whereas now he's in a nice little bit of a lull - and his lull is not anybody else's lull. Rory has always been at his best when he has a point to prove."
Whatever about McIlroy's form, Harrington knows Europe will likely be the clear underdogs at Whistling Straits and that suits him just fine.
"Yeah, we are definitely going to be on the underdog," he said. "The US look incredibly strong at the moment. Very, very strong. But you know, it's Christmas, it's not September. We have nine months to go. Certainly, if it was done on world rankings tomorrow, they have some great players at the top in great form. But it's next September."
The European Ryder Cup qualifying period resumes on January 1, and while the standings have been frozen since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Harrington is not fazed but confident the likes of Norwegian star Viktor Hovland will qualify even if he didn't get any Ryder Cup qualifying points for his second PGA Tour win at the Ma-yakoba Golf Classic.
"There are a full eight and a half months of points to go so there's plenty to play for, plenty of current form there and it does respect the guys who have already played well and gives them credit for what they've done," he said. "So I'm happy with how the points are looking, and as for Hovland, he looks like a class player and will qualify himself. It's not a big deal to me. I think he'll still do it anyway."
Getting the best out of the talent available is key and while the links-style Straits Course cannot be tricked up as easily as a regular American parkland, the triple Major winner expects to see the set up reward US firepower in a match where the more comfortable wins are decided by small shifts in momentum rather than surprises from left field, such as the controversy surrounding Danny Willett at Hazeltine in 2016.
"It's obviously a different experience when you go away from home," he said.
"At home, you are trying to set the golf course up to suit your players in advance of the event, and I assume the US are going to do the same thing, set it up as best they can to suit the style of play that they have. Thankfully the venue is reasonable. We can expect that it will be set up for birdies, which is kind of the opposite of Paris National, which was set up for pars.
"Europe's strength is having a good balance in the team as our teams have gotten stronger over the years in terms of having 12 men when in times past, we were trying to get away with it with a smaller core.
"Now we have a good mix of experience and rookies so it's about getting the balance right, getting them all working together in a good team atmosphere and then just going to play golf."
Having acted as a vice-captain in 2014, '16 and '18, he knows what to expect and who he needs to rely on.
"I will have to delegate," he said. "There's a lot of stress and pull on the captain - a lot of things to be done - so the captain's got to work with his vice-captains and be very clear. From being vice-captain, I learned what I need to do at the event itself in terms of where the pressure points are, which is something that worked very well in France. There were some good lessons learned in Hazeltine where we always seemed to be on the back foot."
That humorous anti-American blog by Willett's brother threw Darren Clarke's plans into disarray in 2016, and the team never recovered from losing the first session 4-0.
"That kicked it off, and we didn't get a good start, and you're scrambling from there," Harrington recalled.
"Danny Willett was the Masters champion. Even though he's a rookie, he was supposedly meant to lead the team out. He was the man. And then all of a sudden that was suddenly taken away, and maybe in hindsight, we shouldn't have given a damn and sent him out there and said, yeah just go play the golf."
The world rankings say that Europe's top 12 are Jon Rahm, McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton, Hovland, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Victor Pe-rez, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger.
But Harrington insists he's currently looking at as many as 30 players and expects a few more to emerge next year.
"My job over the next nine months is to understand those personalities match them up in advance in terms of foursomes and fourball and work with what I've got when I get there," he said.
"You are looking at your rookies to see who they are and who would they fit in with. In terms of experience, you really want to look at Sergio and Poulter.
"Poulter has a reputation for winning and Sergio is a very versatile player and also loves the Ryder Cup and wins points. There's lots of different lots of different scenarios. You look at the golf course, and from an Irish perspective, it would obviously suit Shane Lowry very well. So that side of things is good."
Lowry has made making the Ryder Cup the main focus for 2021, but there's little Harrington can do to help.
"I don't know if I'd be making it easier or harder for him," Harrington said.
"He knows himself [what he has to do]. At the end of the day, it doesn't make much difference, he just wants to play good golf. It's not like he wouldn't be trying if it wasn't a Ryder Cup next year. I don't think he'd be trying any less."
The good news for Lowry is that Harrington knows what he can do under the cosh, but the tricky part will be blending the new blood into the team.
"They're the ones that I will focus on more during the day early part of the season," he said. "Later, when you have a better feel for who's going to be in the team, it's a balancing act at that stage."
The hardest part of captaincy for Harrington will not be the nuts and bolts of the job but the fact that he must temporarily stop focussing on his own game, his quest for "the secret" and the dream of another day of Major glory.
"The most challenging part for me will be giving up my competitiveness at tourna-ments," he admitted. "That's going to be tough for the next number of months, the fact that I have to give up more time for meetings and organisation and marketing stuff.
"It could be as simple as me wanting to go down and hit a few putts after a round of golf, but I pass one of the rookies, and I have to stop for two or three minutes to see how they are rather than normally just say hello and go on and do my stuff.
"You know me at tournaments. I tend to be all business, and I have to be careful and understand these are all on my team, and I have to show a slightly softer side of me."
While previous captains have been keen to hit the Champions Tour, Harrington is wary and admits that seeing a Champions Tour column on his 2021 schedule was "a wake-up call."
He turns 50 on August 31, but while he will likely play a couple of Champions Tour events late next year, he's reluctant to fully commit himself to the over 50s circuit.
"I have a couple of thoughts in the Champions Tour. One, I think once you go, you don't come back. But if you want to have a successful Champions Tour career, you've got to go when you have an advantage.
"So the younger you are, the better. There's no point in starting at 54 years of age. If you want to have a successful career, you're better off starting at 50 when you have that advantage.
"The next part to that is if you go, I just don't see players who go coming back in terms of the intensity or the pressure of playing four rounds with a two-round cut compared to three rounds, but no cut.
"Looking at the conditions, and this is the problem, I'm not necessarily sure the Champions Tour suits me in the sense that to be good on the Champions Tour, you've clearly got to be a great wedge player and putter.
"Length is not an issue, so there's no point in going to the Champions Tour and being a long hitter. That's clearly not going to do you any good. It's nice to have, but it's of no advantage.
"Looking at the guys who are competitive, it's all about how well you hit your wedges and how good you putt, so by trying to keep competitive on the main tour, you're building strengths that don't necessarily cross over to the Champions Tour."
Believing he's a far more dangerous player on a tough, windy course than trying to shoot 20 under in glorious sunshine, Harrington added: "I don't hold out that this is the most unbelievable opportunity. It all depends on the next eight months and how I am playing. If I play like I played over the last six weeks, there's no problem with me being competitive and winning on the main tour.
"I've no interest in finishing 15th or second or anything like that. I only want to be able to win tournaments. So if I don't feel like I can win in the US or Europe, I'll go and take my chances on the Champions Tour. It's all about trying to win."
That said, Harrington is not turning up his nose at the money involved given that Bernhard Langer has made $30 million among the round bellies and Des Smyth picked up $4.5 million in his senior years.
"I certainly won't say no," he said. "There is obviously very good money to be made out there, but it's not my ambition. What keeps me going and practising is the buzz of trying to win - the hope aspect of waking up and discovering I have the secret. That hope is still inside me.
"I practice to try and win a major. That's it the end of the day it. That's what I'm doing. It doesn't make any difference the reality of that or the odds of it as long as that's what keeps me the out there practising.
"And physically, you know what, I'm actually hitting the ball better than ever."