Preston North End manager Alex Neil will take on the last team he played for in England when his Lilywhites begin their Carabao Cup campaign this weekend.
The North End boss was signed by then Stags boss Keith Curle back in 2004 and won their player of the year in his one season at Field Mill, before heading back to his native Scotland.
And during that single season, he faced off against PNE in the same competition – the last meeting of the two teams, but that is long forgotten and he must now prepare his own team for the challenge of the League Two side, something he expects to be a very tough test.
So what does he know of his opponents this weekend? “We have seen the three games that they have played, so we have an understanding of how they will play and an understanding of what it will be like and they are going to be very competitive. They will be aggressive and they have some decent players as well.
“We are going to have to make sure we perform well and we will have to compete first and foremost.
“What the two games we have played will do, will make sure the players don’t underestimate anyone. They have to give the opposition the respect that it is due and make sure we go about our business in a professional manner.
“This isn’t going to be an easy game by any stretch; we are going to have to play well, be really up for it and we have to make sure that we win it.
“Every Mansfield player will want to show that they can compete in the Championship. They will want to show that they are as good as our players and what our players have, is an onus on them to show why they are playing in the Championship and why they are good players.
“We won’t be taking it lightly; we know we have got a tough game ahead; we know it is going to be a big challenge for us and we need to make sure that our attitude and how we apply ourselves is spot on.”
The game comes right in the middle of pre-season, so how has that changed his preparations for this competitive game?
“The difference is the consequences attached to the game,” he continued. “At this point we have only played two games, where we would normally to 45/45 and then would be considering building it up to 60 for the team, but the subs are reduced and we have eight players who are going to have to play 90 minutes plus, so it does change things.
“However, Mansfield are only a week ahead of us; they have only played an extra game, which will help them, and we have to use it as part of our pre-season preparations.
“We want to win the match and we want to get through to the next round of the cup. We are not taking it lightly – the result matters and we want to win.”
The manager revealed that goalkeeper Declan Rudd and full back Darnell Fisher would not be ready in time for the first round tie, but hoped that whoever was selected, would take their chance.
“It gives someone an opportunity. With any injury or suspension or if anybody gets dropped out, the guy taking his place gets an opportunity to show what he can do.
“For us it will be a good opportunity for someone to come in and see how well he can get on.
“I have got a team in my mind at the moment. We have done some work on it already and we will be ready for the match,” he added.
Remember, the game is live on iFollow PNE, with full match coverage from 2.45pm, former North End skipper Paul McKenna alongside Jonathan Breeze at Deepdale bringing you all the coverage – click here now to sign up for a match pass for £10.