Sunderland certainly had familiar opposition as they looked to end a woeful run of FA Cup exits on this day in 1972.
Sheffield Wednesday were back in town having only just been up for a league fixture, whilst Black Cats boss Alan Brown had left the Owls in 1968 so that he could take up a second spell in the Roker hot seat.
It added an extra layer of intrigue to the tie, and the Lads were hopeful of some long-awaited progress having fallen miserably at the first hurdle for the last four seasons.
14 days earlier the two clubs had clashed in Division Two, and whilst the side had then suffered a humiliating 5-0 loss at Orient in the meantime the victory over Sheffield Wednesday had certainly been encouraging.
Bobby Kerr and Dennis Tueart had scored the goals in a 2-0 win on New Year's Day, and both were about to have an impact on the rematch as well – although it was the visitors that enjoyed the better start on this occasion.
The first ten minutes saw Sheffield Wednesday looking much brighter, and whilst Sunderland started then getting back into the game both sides ended up trading chances during an action-packed afternoon.
The Yorkshire outfit attempted to play a high line throughout and whilst it seemed to work for most of the time the home side looked dangerous when they were able to beat the offside trap.
Billy Hughes forced a top save from Peter Grummitt as Sunderland looked to edge ahead, and the keeper was grateful to see the ball flash wide after Tueart’s cross along the face of goal had caused all sorts of panic.
Jimmy Montgomery was kept on his toes at the other end too.
He stopped a fantastic John Sissons effort on 28 minutes after the Owls had spring a breakaway and they went even closer soon after.
Brian Joicey couldn’t believe it when from barely six yards out and with the goal seemingly at his mercy Monty was able to stick out a leg and block his effort, but the chance served as a wake up call and Brown’s men immediately looked to sharpen up.
Rokerites were very familiar with Montgomery’s reflexes and a year later the whole world would come to see them in the same competition.
Ian Porterfield was also destined to become a household name but at this point the focus remained simply on getting into the fourth round and he was about to have a say in it happening for the first time since 1967, when Brentford had been swatted aside at this stage of the competition.
Since then, First Division Sunderland had been knocked out by lower division opposition in three of the four campaigns and only been ahead for a total of two minutes in those matches.
Taking the lead in this match was feeling increasingly important as the pattern continued like that of a basketball game.
Woken up by those two saves, the Lads soon delivered when Porterfield, pushed up front for the day, rushed in on a loose ball and stuck it away. The opening had occurred when Tueart headed a Hughes cross towards Brian Chambers, who saw the ball ricochet kindly, and that piece of fortune seemed to unsettle the Owls for a period after.
It wasn’t until the second half however that the win was confirmed, with the game looking over once Dave Watson had made it 2-0 after an hour. Kerr, seen so often during the match carrying the dirty work in front of the back four, became able to switch into attack mode for the goal and played a lovely long ball through to create the chance.
Tueart remained in the thick of things as well, testing Grummitt after Hughes and Dick Malone had teamed up neatly to feed him, and shortly after Peter Rodrigues had been booked for a foul on the winger, he laid on a simple opportunity for Chambers to wrap things up.
Sunderland had gone one better than their recent meeting with the Owls, and whilst they were beaten by Cardiff City in the fourth round the Lads had at least given supporters a taste of the cup success they were going to properly serve up in 1973 - during a run which coincidentally featured a semi-final appearance at Sheffield Wednesday’s home ground of Hillsborough.
By a quirk of fate that had also been the venue for the last time the club had played on the 15th of January, when in 1955 Brown’s original predecessor Bill Murray had overseen a 2-1 league win.
The club also got to the semi-final last season, and 17 years on from that the club was now celebrating some more FA Cup joy after a very frustrating wait.
Saturday 15 January 1972
FA Cup 3rd round
Sunderland 3 (Porterfield 35, Watson 60, Chambers 75)
Sheffield Wednesday 0
Sunderland: Montgomery; Malone, Harvey, Pitt, Coleman; Hughes, Chambers, Kerr, Tueart; Watson, Porterfield. Unused: McGiven.
Roker Park, attendance 25, 310