Northland last won the Hawke Cup in 2003 and the captain on that occasion, Brett Hood, believes the present team have what it takes to succeed in their challenge against Manawatu in February.
Hood has been watching the team develop into a side capable of making their mark in the prestigious inter-district cricket competition that has been contested for more than 100 years.
"The current team has been playing well for a couple of years now and there are some quality players that aren't quite ready to play for Northern Districts " which is kind of good for Northland " and everyone's contributing and that's what it's all about with the Hawke Cup," he said.
It took an almost freakish final-wicket stand for Northland to beat Hawkes Bay to win the cup back in 2003.
The team went into the challenge as underdogs. Northland boasted a couple of Black Caps at the time " the Marshall brothers Hamish and James " and a couple more first class players but they were all unavailable for the challenge so Northland weren't really given much of a chance of winning.
It turned out to be one of the most memorable games in Hood's long career. The rain-affected match was quite unlike the majority of Hawke Cup matches, which tend to be battles for first innings points on batter-friendly tracks. Instead, there was plenty in the wicket for the bowlers.
"We got them out for about 130 but then we nearly blew it. We were nine down for about 110 and then David Pinny and Darron Goodwin put on 130-odd for the final wicket " which was not only a Northland 10th wicket record but also effectively won us the game and the Hawke Cup," he recalls.
Hood amassed 86 appearances for Northland between 1991 and 2012 and would have clocked the ton but for three years away at Waikato University, where he played 24 matches for Hamilton.
"I'll always remember that Hawkes Bay game but we didn't hold it very long and that's been our problem with the Hawke Cup " you try so hard to get your hands on it that you forget about the next act, which is trying to hang on to it," he said.
Northland held the cup against Canterbury Country and Hamilton but Mid-Canterbury carried it back south in 2004. It was the second time in Northland colours that he had helped win the Hawke Cup.
In contrast to the 2003 challenge, the previous successful challenge was in 1997-8 with players like Dion Nash, Bryan Young, James Marshall, Alex O'Dowd, Alex Tait, Richard Morgan, Stephen Cunis, Michael and Neal Parlane and Joe Yovich.
"It was a very good side and there were three hundreds scored in that game by Bryan Young, Neal Parlane and Joey Yovich. I was the captain in that game and I didn't get on the field during the match until just before tea in the second day to declare," he laughs.
But although Northland again hung on to the trophy over the winter, they surrendered it soon afterwards and Hood would like to see the present crop of players win it again and then to hold on to it for a good period of time.
"But first they've got to win it ... and that won't be easy. Manawatu are always good and will be pretty strong again."
The Northland challenge will be on February 13-15 against Manawatu, provided they can withstand a challenge from the Central Districts challenger.