He created the monster he's now trying to take down, but Canterbury coach Des Hasler denies his intimate knowledge of Manly will aid the Bulldogs in Friday night's NRL finals blockbuster.
Of the 17 players that will take to ANZ Stadium in Sea Eagles jumpers, all bar wingers Jorge Taufua and Dean Whare and interchange prop Darcy Lussick won a premiership under Hasler.
Seven players were part of both grand final wins Hasler oversaw in 2008 and 2011.
But now clad in blue and white instead of the maroon - Hasler played down his potential impact on the match.
"You know the individuals and you know the players, but at the end of the day I'm in the box," Hasler said.
"It's not me, it's more the moments that are going to be presented in the game, that's what you've got to prepare the players for.
"Footy's changed like that - it's what comes up in the game, the situations and how they deal with those situations and the adversities that they have to encounter and overcome."
But like a school teacher watching his former pupils mature from afar, Hasler clearly still a soft spot for his former club.
He even credits former understudy and now Sea Eagles head honcho Geoff Toovey for not changing many of the systems he put in place.
"They've said themselves that they haven't changed too much, and Tooves is smart for doing that," Hasler said.
"They've just gone through the year, they've had a tough year, they've had injuries, they've had suspensions and they've showed great resolve and great resilience to make the finals - they'll be a force to be contended with.
"The bookies have got them as favourite ... Melbourne are second and we're third - I told you they were the benchmark sides but no-one believed me."
But try as he might to play down his side's chances on Friday night, Hasler knows what it takes to bring down the reigning premiers.
The Bulldogs were the last team to beat Manly - a 20-12 win in round 20 at Brookvale Oval.
But that was also the last game Manly played without all their big guns on deck, fullback Brett Stewart missing an encounter in which his opposite Ben Barba produced a two-try masterpiece.
Only winger David Williams is missing from what would be Manly's first-choice 17 this week.
Hasler denied there would be any psychological advantage as a result of their round 20 win, just as he would be sure to dismiss the fact Manly have won their last five games at ANZ Stadium - a run stretching back to 2009.
"We know the type of game it's going to be," Hasler said of what his side could take out of the round 20 win.
"We know the type of side that Manly are.
"They get into that real tight grind, they get into that arm-wrestle, they've just got match-winners right across the field - that's why they're the NRL premiers."