Wigan Athletic are a few steps ahead of Fleetwood, admits Town manager Graham Alexander, despite the clubs sharing non-league DNA.
Fleetwood visit the Latics tomorrow in League One – a massive step from the level at which the teams last clashed, the Lancashire Combination.
Matches between Fleetwood and Wigan were regular fixtures until the Latics left the competition in 1961, beginning their rise to the Football League.
It’s a path Fleetwood followed some 40 years later.
But Alexander knows Wigan’s rise to the Premier League, financed by Dave Wheelan, sets them aside from the club he’s looking to guide onwards and upwards.
“Wigan have had the majority of their history in non-league,” said the Fleetwood boss.
“They only joined the Football League in the late 1970s and came through the ranks.
“They are obviously ahead of us on timescale but they have trodden a similar path to us.
“They’ve been to the highest level as well, played in Europe, won the FA Cup and played in the Premier League for many years.
“They’ve still got that infrastructure there, so we know it will be a tough fixture.
“But I think we have players who enjoy these experiences, relish them. That’s what we’ll do on Saturday.
“We know about Wigan’s threats. They’ve got a fantastic squad.
“But we know what we’ve got and we think we can match them.”
It seems only the blink of an eye since Wigan were competing at the pinnacle of the English game.
They won the FA Cup in 2012-13, the season Alexander took charge at Highbury.
But the Town boss made it clear that’s all history, however recent.
The former Burnley defender, who played against the Latics in the top flight, is hoping his side can draw on last season’s victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane for inspiration this weekend.
He said: “They won the FA Cup two years ago – Fleetwood were just out of the Conference at the same time.
“Now we’re playing each other on an even level.
“What we’ve found is that we’re coming up against opponents that are massive clubs with famous histories, who were at higher levels not so long ago – your Portsmouths, Coventrys, teams like that.
“Now we’re competing against these teams.
“It’s fantastic for us and a sign of the progress the club has made over 10 years.
“We’re at a good level to be competing with these kinds of clubs.”