Jim keen to retain awesome aura in 'Riddle of Omagh'
We're sure Jim Gavin has never faced a conundrum quite like Sunday.
"What about the Rossies?" you retort. Wrong: you have dead-rubber similarities but this is different. Trickier, not just in the practical sense of trying to win a match in front of you, but in seeking to best prepare for what comes next.
Put it this way: Dublin were never going to lose against Roscommon 12 months ago. No matter what team took the pitch - so long as they were 15 members of Gavin's squad, as opposed to 15 Dubs wandering in from Gill's.
Fresh, or rather fatigued, from gruelling back-to-back defeats to Tyrone and Donegal, Ros were waiting for their summer to end.
What transpired had a challenge-match 'feel' to it as Dublin racked up 4-24 and coughed up 2-16. Their perfectionist boss won't have loved the latter stat; but this game was all about getting through physically unscathed ahead of Dublin's semi-final against Galway, just six days later.
Just like this Sunday? Correct. But the 'Riddle of Omagh' is far less straight-forward.
When Dublin entered a Healy Park cauldron last summer, Gavin went with the 15 players who would subsequently start the All-Ireland final against the same Red Hand rival.
A fortnight later, he made ten changes for the Rossie dead-rubber. The five survivors were Stephen Cluxton, Philly McMahon, John Small, Cian O'Sullivan and Jack McCaffrey (the latter duo were a relatively short time back from long-term injuries, needed game-time, and both were replaced at half-time).
Will Gavin make ten changes on Sunday? That strikes us as overly ambitious, for several reasons ...
* Tyrone are an All-Ireland threat and would morph into a more serious one in the event of victory here. Ten changes, at the start, could be five too many.
* This is not Croke Park, a geographical reality that makes this fixture immediately more problematic.
* A first SFC defeat in almost five years could place a morsel of doubt in Dublin minds ahead of a semi-final against, quite probably, Kerry a week later. Moreover, it would energise not just Tyrone but both other semi-finalists.
* Dublin's record unbeaten streak, 31 games and counting, is not just a proud boast that Gavin and his players won't want to relinquish. It bolsters their awesome aura; the sense of invincibility that adds a further protective shield in a close-run contest.
Ultimately, Gavin must weigh up all the above against the consideration that, if Dublin expend too much energy and/or suffer ill-timed injuries, they could be vulnerable for a testing semi-final just six days later. A conundrum, for sure.
The good news? Mickey Harte faces a similar one. He must know that going for the jugular and coming up short could be even more damaging to Tyrone.