In all walks of life, experience can be a great benefit.
It gives us the opportunity for trial runs - to see what works well, and not so well. It gives us the chance to reflect upon our mistakes, and prevent them from reoccurring. So when Sunderland rock up to Wembley this weekend they should be ready for the occasion.
Of course we were all bitterly disappointed by our earlier trip to Wembley - missing out on the Checkatrade Trophy on penalties was a tough blow.
But it doesn’t get much more intense and nail-biting than that.
With that in mind, the intensity and atmosphere should be no surprise to our lads out there on the field on Sunday. Having already ‘been there and done that’, they will hopefully know what to expect and not be overwhelmed by the occasion.
Having overcome Portsmouth to reach the play-off final should also give us a mental edge. After all it was Pompey who snagged the EFL Trophy from us earlier in the season - perhaps deservedly.
Lots of blame was bandied around in the days that followed. Was it the fault of the penalty takers? Or those who shied away from penalty responsibility? Or how about Ross’ decision to withdraw his strikers and sit deep? Or maybe simply the individual errors that cost us in-game?
It doesn’t matter now.
What does matter is that in the two legs of the play-off semi final, we were the better team.
In the second half of the Checkatrade final Pompey ran all over us. It seemed they were just waiting to inevitably hit the back of the net and level the tie.
However, in the play-offs Ross and the players had a different idea.
They shrewdly contained Portsmouth and comfortably protected our one-goal cushion.
In short, Ross and the players seemed to have learned from the errors of their previous Wembley trip. There’s no doubting that Sunday will be an awesomely intense affair, but if we can retain what we have learned from that trip and apply it to Sunday’s game it can put us in good stead and give us an edge over our opposition.