When Northampton last welcomed Bristol Rovers to Sixfields a little over two years ago, the mood surrounding that fixture offers a stark contrast to the feel-good vibe going into this Saturday’s crunch clash between League Two’s most form sides.
Back then, both Rovers and Cobblers were frantically fighting tooth and nail to avoid relegation.
It was Northampton who eventually survived by the skin of their teeth but it came at the expense of the Pirates whose wretched run of form between March and May saw them relegated out of the Football League for the very first time.
Fast forward two years, though, and the situation could hardly be more different.
Following a dramatic play-off final win at Wembley last May, Rovers have charged up the League Two table this season and now look on course to join champions-elect Northampton in League One next season.
“We played these around March time and we were in trouble and they were pretty comfortable,” said Cobblers boss Chris Wilder looking back on two years ago.
“They had an horrific run and lost form at the crucial time so they paid the ultimate price.
“While they had the momentum going the other way in that period, they’ve really got it going forward.
“They will really fancy making a statement and if they do it’s a real success story along with ours.
“It’s a great position for them to be in, but we’ll always focus on ourselves.
“With six games to go we can be the first team to win promotion in the Football League and it’s a great situation to be in.”
With seven wins in their last eight, Rovers are the only team in League Two to take more points (24) from their last 10 games than Northampton (20), a run which has catapulted them right into the mix for automatic promotion.
Wilder added: “It’s the two form teams in the league, both with a lot to play for.
“We’ve got six games to go and a fantastic chance to get out of this division.
“Bristol Rovers will want to cement their position in the top three so it’s all to play for.
“We’ve never changed our attitude, we’ve never changed our style and we’ve gone for games, whether that’s been home or away. That’s been our philosophy over the last 10 games.
“We’ve got to treat them with a lot of respect because they’re a team in form and we’re a team who are heading this division by quite a number of points.
“It’s all to play for Saturday.
“Every time you play Bristol Rovers it’s a great atmosphere, it was there at the start of the season when we managed to get off to a flying start, and we’ve been sold out for two or three weeks now.
“This place should be rocking on Saturday and we look forward to a game where we can go and get another three points.”