Lee Radford has made no bones about the importance of Friday’s Hull derby – despite it being the first game of the season.
The East and West sides of the city will lock horns in a mouthwatering opening round fixture that will see the bragging rights well and truly up for grabs.
The sheer hatred between the two sets of supporters make the clash pivotal regardless of the timing, but for the Black and Whites, the match holds even greater importance.
Radford’s side endured a gruesome end to last season, finishing the campaign with an eleven-game losing streak.
That miserable conclusion, combined with a low-key recruitment drive, has seen pessimism and frustration rife around the West side of the city throughout the off-season.
Defeat to their bitter rivals would only escalate that negativity, a point Radford is all too aware of.
On the flip side, the Black and Whites chief believes victory could have major consequences on their campaign.
“You can’t dance around it or underplay it, it’s a massive and important game for us,” he said.
“We have to do everything we can to win the game. We’ve possibly put a really difficult pre-season into them to ultimately win there round 1.
“In 2006 I got to a Grand Final with Hull FC. We probably had no right that year with the squad we had. But we got there from momentum. A new coach came in and we had a feel-good factor. That progressed and manifested into a juggernaut that didn’t look like stopping.
“It took one of the best Grand Final teams ever to bring it to an end. But anything can happen in this sport, but you’ve got to work so hard to get that momentum going. That’s what you’ve got to do.”
Radford has made so secret of his belief that his side can compete for major honours this year, despite almost everyone else suggesting otherwise.
But Radford has been in this position before and is more than happy to use the opportunity to prove people wrong as a motivational tool.
“It still drives me. You do get used to it but it still drives me. Ultimately, that was my motivation throughout my playing career, to prove people wrong, and I think I’ve still got that mantra as a coach.”