Twelve months ago Harlequins missed out on a Heineken Cup quarter final by the skin of their teeth in the rain at Connacht.
Director of rugby Conor O’Shea’s men crashed 9-8 at the Sports Ground in Galway to fail to make the knockout stages and miss the chance to erase the memory of the infamous “Bloodgate” defeat to Leinster in 2009.
Skipper Chris Robshaw, now England captain, featured in both games and, after Saturday’s 47-8 win over the Irishmen, reminded his men of the Connacht disappointment even though it may have played its part in the club’s greatest triumph to date.
“There was a lot of hurt last year,” he said.
“Maybe it helped us to go on and win the Premiership, but we felt we had more to give in a European competition.
“It is a special competition that every player wants to play in.
“This will be only the club’s second Heineken Cup quarter final, so there are not many players here who have been in this situation before.
“We all know what happened the last time we were there and we want to kick on and be a force in Europe.”
Ten players in the match day squad against the Irishmen in 2009 will expect to be on duty again in April’s home quarter final.
Mike Brown, Ugo Monye, Nick Evans, Danny Care, George Robson, Robshaw, Nick Easter, Tom Guest, Mark Lambert and, most notably, Tom Williams – who agreed a new two-year contract this week – all featured that day.
Monye’s splendid individual try – added to scores via a penalty try, Williams (two), George Lowe and Ben Botica – helped secure a bonus point win for his team at the weekend, as he rolled back the years in his 200th appearance for the club.
“I feel as if the pace is still there. I’m a bit older and a bit more experience, but just use my pace a little bit better,” added the 29-year-old.
And Robshaw, who lifted the Premiership title last year and led his country to a historic win over New Zealand in the autumn, reckons that experience and painful memories of the past, could be the difference between success and failure.
“Every time you play in those type of games you learn a new experience. It is in the back of your mind, where you’ve been in these situations and potentailly done something wrong,” he added.
“It is about playing smart. You are probably playing a team you’ve never played before.
“It is about being smart in your analysis, finding some weakness and strenghths, and making sure on that day you put your game on the pitch.
“You don’t want to hold anything back in a one off game.”