When Phil Neville took his England players to Qatar last winter, he sat them around a camp fire in the middle of the desert and related how it had felt to miss the final cut in the World Cup squads of 1998 and 2002.
He made light of it, in the way he often does with his squad, but it was clearly a fairly brutal experience.
Neville told how he was in Debenhams with his wife, entirely unaware of the bombshell to come, when one of Sven Goran Eriksson's calls flashed up on his phone.
On Friday night on the Normandy coast, Neville finally gets that chance to face Argentina which he was deprived of on those two occasions. And though a women's team ranked 37th in the world should not present the same challenge, it is clear that the heavy weight of football history comes attached for him.
'You think of 1986, the Owen goal, '98, Beckham in Sapporo [Japan] in 2002,' he said. 'They knocked us out of the World Cup in '98. What you've got with this game is an outstanding football history between the two and rivalry.
'I've told the players this is a proud nation. And when you come up against a big powerful football nation, you are playing against history.
'When you talk about street football you are talking about South American players who have grown up with nothing. This is what this Argentinian team is. That's what we've got to handle.'
This was supposed to be the free pass in England's group and though the manager is already thinking ahead to the permutations of the knock-out stage, no-one is under any illusions about the feverish domestic reaction to the South American nation's improbable draw against Japan.
School classes were suspended for pupils to watch the 0-0 draw in Paris. It was the first women's game broadcast on Argentine national public radio and TV. There were mass viewings at universities.
Argentina coach Carlos Borrello deftly swerved a question about the Falklands War when it came up last night — 'I think that this is all about football rivalry. I don't think politics have a place', he said — but the old narrative of rivalry still holds from his side of the equation, too.
Borrello's players were sleeping in buses on an away trip to Uruguay two years ago and the underdog spirit clearly fires them. It's not often that can be said of this particular footballing nation.
Neville — again without striker Toni Duggan, whose thigh injury has still not fully healed — said he will make two or three changes to maintain freshness and admitted that Argentina's monumentally defensive display against the Japanese had surprised him.
'We've been covering them since the draw and it's the first time they've played that organised,' he said. 'They're a nation who [usually] play a certain style and have players up front who like to have that freedom.'
So it should be a more attritional affair than he had expected.
'Man-to-man marking, defenders who want to defend and be aggressive,' as he put it. 'It will be hard to break them down.'
The mild worry is that England have struggled against aggressive, defensive teams in the warm-up games.
Neville observed that Argentina are not the only ones who have travelled a long distance in a short time. He referenced the FA's decision to put the team on a private jet to Kazakhstan 'for a game that meant nothing'. For the men's team, the jet provision would have been a matter of course.
The manager's mental landscape for this World Cup certainly didn't include the Dutch coach, Raymond Verheijen, suggesting women's teams are coached by 'clueless leftovers from the men's game rather than by the best female coaches' though the England manager navigated the abuse last night with a cool equanimity which reflected the impressive way he is leading this team.
'He's a keyboard warrior,' Neville observed. 'He sits and talks a fantastic game but I never see him working in football.'
Neville is already starting to think about the knock-out stages. Winning the group would mean an easier path towards the semi-finals — possibly facing New Zealand in the round of 16, Norway or Australia in the quarter finals.
But the bigger picture is the team he always wanted to face on this stage. 'They're going to have that fight,' he said. 'They play like South American teams. This is another game where we'll have to handle emotion.'