Burnley boss Vincent Kompany hails Jack Cork's influence ahead of the skipper's return to Swansea City
The Burnley boss faced his captain eight times as a player — including four times against the Clarets and twice versus the Swans — so was already aware of his capabilities.
However, the 36-year-old ex-Belgium international, who came out on top in six of those encounters, while sharing the spoils on the other occasions, developed a greater understanding and appreciation of Cork's class when becoming a coach.
The four-time Premier League winner, who made the switch from RSC Anderlecht to Turf Moor in the summer, succeeding Sean Dyche at the helm, has had the opportunity to work at close quarters with the England cap at the club's Gawthorpe training base.
"I've known him as a player that I've played against, but when they're part of your team that is when you see the real value," said Kompany, in his appraisal.
"It's one thing to be a top player on the ball, but what he has off the ball is absolute top level. He's got the age as well so the experience plays a lot.
"I'm extremely impressed with his positioning, it's a masterclass for young midfielders as to how you need to manage defending, cut backs, winning second balls, working early to get into position."
Cork, who has made 325 appearances when combining his spells in East Lancashire and South Wales, has been instrumental in the Clarets' success in the Championship this season.
But the ex-Southampton man, who first went toe-to-toe with Kompany in April 2010, with their final contest coming nine years later, both at Turf Moor, is walking a tightrope having collected nine yellow cards this term.
He's now one more booking away from a two-match ban. Kompany said: "It's the simple things he does so well.
"Having made a career here for a long time I think those are the things that have made Burnley outstanding in their best years. If you have a team of guys that understand their roles like this...
"You know what's coming, he's one yellow card away from a two-game ban, so when he inevitably gets that booking you'll say, 'how are we going to do without Corky?' He's been important to us. Maybe he can live on the edge for a few more games, we'll see."
The Championship leaders put four past Swansea in mid-October when Vitinho and Anass Zaroury added to leading scorer Jay Rodriguez's double.
Russell Martin's side had recently embarked on an eight-game winless run, but brought it to a halt with a thumping win over play-off hopefuls Watford in their final outing of 2022.
Kompany is looking forward to the challenge, though he acknowledges that the opposition's biggest win of the campaign will give them plenty of encouragement.
He concluded: "They have just beaten Watford 4-0 so I think it is pretty clear how they will feel they have finished the year. I know if I was on the other side and I had lost 4-0 at Turf Moor then it would have only fuelled the fire.
"I can imagine they will be a motivated team but it is a game we really want and we are really looking forward to it. We want to show that we are still improving and getting better and Swansea is as tough a game as you can get because both teams want the ball."