Burnley welcome Everton this weekend with bittersweet memories of last season’s painful Turf Moor defeat.
The Clarets suffered their heaviest home reverse of the season when The Toffees ran out convincing 5-1 winners on Boxing Day.
However, from that mid-season nadir, with just 12 points on the board, Sean Dyche’s men came out fighting to storm to Premier League safety.
And with Burnley currently above Everton in the table ahead of Saturday’s reunion, boss Sean Dyche reflected on a defining moment in their recent past.
“I don’t do too much looking back because we’re in a different place now, but that game did give us a reminder of what we are good at and got us back to doing that,” explained Dyche.
“There were anomalies that day, because they scored with their only three shots on target in the first half, but it was a grounding moment where we all took stock - and everyone knows what happened next.
“We went on a fine run of performances and got some good results on the board, pretty much to the end of the season.
“So, there was definitely a positive came from that negative because it brought more clarity towards what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to do it.
“We realigned quickly and never really looked back. We beat West Ham a couple of days later and went onto have a very strong second half of the season.”
Dyche added: “We continue to learn from experiences like that. You can’t under-estimate days like that.
“We’ve certainly got a strong mentality after having a few bumps in the road, but I think that adds to your resilience.
“We’ve got a resilient nature anyway, but all these experiences you have as a group can make you stronger and we look like a group that continues to grow.”
One of the biggest positives from the aftermath of the Everton defeat was the emergence of Dwight McNeil.
The teenage winger had already cut his teeth with a Premier League debut against Bournemouth at the end of the 2017/18 season, followed by notable starting roles against Olympiakos and Manchester United at the start of last season.
And Dyche admitted it was a big moment to thrust an 18-year-old McNeil back into the spotlight after suffering a dose of the Christmas blues at home to Marco Silva’s side.
“There was a big debate on the timing of it, but as a staff we all expected Dwight to break through at some point,” recalled Dyche.
“When you are at a low ebb, it’s deciding whether you have what I call the structured bravery of making that decision.
“I’ve always felt you have to be fair to the player and it’s not just about you believing they are ready; they have to believe they are ready.
“I think there was a good mixture of that, so we put Dwight in at the right time, when maybe some of the mentality outside of our camp had bottomed out.
“It’s fair to say that decision has worked very well since!”
Dyche, who has made McNeil a mainstay of his side since, added: “I felt if he could grip the feeling of the Premier league quickly, then he’d be fine, because he can play, without a doubt.
“Technically, he is good, he is forever learning tactically and is in good physical shape.
“There were a lot of positives and once I thought ‘yeah, you can handle this’, then I wasn’t in much doubt.
“He went in, delivered straight away and he has never looked back!”
Everton arrive at Turf Moor on the back of three straight Premier League defeats.
But the Clarets boss is acutely aware of the threat the Blues’ possess, having again delved into the transfer market to spend around £100m in the summer.
“Everton have put money inconsistently for a number of years and are still close to being what everyone thinks they might be,” said Dyche.
“We won’t be taking them for granted and neither will they, I’m sure. They will know it’s a challenge, but they are still a good side with plenty of good players.
“They’ve had an awkward little patch, but it’s still relatively early and we are mindful of what they can offer, while also remaining powerful in what we can offer, because we’re in good shape.
“It’s certainly been a good period in terms of performances, even within games. We’ve been good with and without the ball and scored some outstanding goals.
“We’ve been causing teams more problems and creating better quality chances, and we are still looking quite tight at the other end, so we’ve had a good mixture, backed up by good grit and determination when we’ve needed it.”