Dan Black's verdict as Burnley — who moved to within two wins of Wembley — look to expel the ghosts of their FA Cup past
Burnley boss Vincent Kompany and match-winner Nathan Tella won't dare to dream just yet.
Their eyes are, quite rightly, on Preston North End only, despite the proverbial sea parting in the Emirates FA Cup.
We'd become accustomed to feelings of frustration and disappointment when allowing our imaginations to run wild in seasons gone by.
Opportunities to advance into the deeper stages of the nation's most prestigious domestic cup competition had presented themselves.
But underwhelming reversals at home to Norwich City (fourth round) in 2020, AFC Bournemouth (fifth round) in 2021 and Huddersfield Town (third round) this time last year all-too familiarly dampened all hope and expectation.
Successive defeats at the hands of powerhouses Manchester City, both at the Etihad in 2018 and 2019, could be excused, but the fifth round loss to non-league Lincoln City, again at Turf Moor, was perhaps the moment when the cracks had started to appear.
It's been a fractious relationship, and last year's defeat to the Terriers had been the straw that broke the camel's back, but all could be forgotten.
Those skeleton's were tossed out of the closet in the summer, when Kompany et al set about revolutionising the club both on and off the field.
Now the Clarets are just one win away from reaching only a second quarter-final in 40 years and two triumphs away from contending a semi-final at Wembley.
"It's tough to project myself this far," said Kompany, when questioned about a potential cup run. "I'm happy to just focus on the games ahead. When Fleetwood Town come here we'll see that game as a priority.
"We don't ever like losing. We've given everybody a little bit of hope, which is good, but it's something that's going to live in the background."
The FA Cup was the 36-year-old's first piece of silverware in England as Manchester City beat Stoke City 1-0 courtesy of a Yaya Toure goal in 2011.
It'll be some story if the ex-Belgium international can steer the Championship leaders to the latter stages of the competition with nine Premier League clubs still active.
However, they've drawn the second lowest ranked side remaining in the competition at home, and a first venture into the final eight since 2003 is certainly on the cards.
It's a trend that seems to follow a completely unscientific formula every couple of decades, with the club suffering defeat in a replay to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in 1983 and then losing out to Watford at Vicarage Road — when ex-boss Sean Dyche was on the bench — 20 years ago.
This chance, against League One Fleetwood Town on the week commencing February 27, should be taken very, very seriously. It's not a given; Scott Brown will encourage his underdogs to embody the blood-and-thunder approach he adopted as a player.
But you get the feeling that it'll never happen for the 1914 champions if they don't progress this time around. "You've just got to look at the Sheffield United and Wrexham game," said Tella, when alluding to potential banana skins.
"It doesn't matter who we play; anything can happen in the FA Cup. That's the beauty of this competition. If we can progress and have a cup run it's a good thing."
Burnley have been flying in the league, winning nine games on the bounce and 12 of their last 13 fixtures, but they made hard work of things over two legs against third tier promotion hopefuls Ipswich Town.
The 0-0 at Portman Road was arguably as drab as a goal-less draw could be and, aside from the first three minutes on Tuesday night, the replay wasn't much better.
Too many individuals had what can only be described as an 'off night' as the hosts produced a ponderous and laboured performance, though, given the joy and jubilation they've given us this season, now doesn't seem the time to 'name and shame', or hang anybody out to dry in public.
Instead, you have to give Kieran McKenna's men credit for attacking the game like they had nothing to lose. "Job done," Kompany exclaimed.
"It was a tough game, but that was to be expected. Ipswich are a good side and there's not a big difference between them and some of the teams we've faced in the Championship. I'm really happy and pleased with the result.
"It was the perfect start but then we gave it away! The first half wasn't the best but in the second half I thought we were better than the opponent and created moments. We took it late but this team finds a way and it is a good result and we are through to the next round."
Tella's intro and conclusion clouded the action that came in the middle, as the protagonist of the tale joined Anass Zaroury in double figures for the season across all competitions.
The club's leading scorer fired into the roof of the net within the first minute, after Lyle Foster, on his full debut, lacked the composure to finish from Ian Maatsen's pass.
The visitors, though, equalised almost immediately with a move that Kompany would have been proud of. Turning their opponents in transition, Sone Aluko slipped the ball goal side of Maatsen, when banking on the pace of Kayden Jackson, and the former Accrington Stanley winger's delivery was met by George Hirst.
Jackson, Maatsen and substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson all had opportunities to settle the tie in the second half, but it was Tella who applied the all-important touch when beating Vaclav Hladky in the fourth minute of time added on.
The Southampton star didn’t feel as though he was a goal-scorer when joining on loan from St Mary’s with just two professional goals on his CV.
The former Arsenal academy ace netted his one and only Premier League goal in a 3-1 win over Fulham on the South Coast in May 2021 and he was then on target as the Saints hammered Newport County 8-0 in the EFL Cup three months later.
Whether the 23-year-old could replicate this form in the top flight is up for debate, with his parent club displaying a reluctance to recall him from his loan last month to aid their survival bid, but he’s clearly got an eye for goal.
He said: "I've never really been much of a goal-scorer before I came here, but I've always wanted to be. It's gone a lot better than I'd expected.
"It gives me loads of confidence. Every player, especially forwards, want to be among the goals, getting assists, playing well and being in a team that's winning, it's given me confidence in my ability, and I really believe in myself now."
Burnley host the Cod Army on March 1 at 7-30pm.