The Hawke's Bay coach who put the Magpies on the map in their return to the top flight is plotting their undoing this week.
Manawatu Turbos head coach Peter Russell was at the Hawke's Bay helm from 2007 to 2011, a span which saw the team reach three straight Air New Zealand Cup semifinals and win the Mitre 10 Cup's second-tier Championship.
On Saturday, his Manawatu side will attempt to take the Ranfurly Shield off the Magpies, who beat Northland 33-17 last Friday at McLean Park in what was the home side's first defence since taking the trophy off Otago 28-9 on October 4.
Russell said he remembers the 2007-11 period fondly, even though the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union opted against renewing his contract after a couple of down seasons.
"It happens, there's transitions between players, coaches," Russell said.
The game, which kicks off at 4.35pm on Saturday, will be the first time Russell has returned to McLean Park as the opposition in a competitive fixture.
But that's not something he's dwelling on:
"It's part and parcel of being a professional coach, you take your passion where you're coaching next."
Russell said his Turbos are looking forward to the challenge Saturday poses, with the two teams on opposite ends of the Mitre 10 Cup Championship table.
Winless Manawatu have had a tough year with injuries and not getting the rub of the green at the field, according to their head coach.
"But we're working pretty hard towards what we want to achieve this year," Russell said.
"We just have to focus on ourselves, what we've been working towards over the last two or three weeks."
He said for Manawatu to win the Ranfurly Shield for the first time since 1976, and just the second time in their history, they need to be consistent throughout the game and have a solid focus.
"I think we're heading in the right direction, even though it hasn't shown on the scoreboard yet."
Hawke's Bay are heavy favourites for the match, with the TAB setting the odds of a Magpies win at $1.09 compared with $6.50 for Manawatu as at noon Wednesday.
Russell said Hawke's Bay, who are at the top of the Championship with four wins and two losses so far, represent where his side need to get to over the next season or two.
"As you want players to get better you've got to bring better players in to help your local boys grow, so that's probably our next step next year," he said.
Russell said the Magpies are now a strong, consistent side aided by the continuity they've fostered over the last couple of seasons.
"They were unlucky [to lose the Championship final to Bay of Plenty] last year, they've got a lot of settled, senior players in the squad which does help," he said.
One of those Magpies senior players, albeit a new recruit for 2020, is fullback Kurt Baker who made his first-class debut for the Turbos in 2008.
Born-and-raised in Palmerston North, Baker played for Taranaki from 2010 to 2015 but returned to his home province for the 2017 season.