Experience has taught John Mitchell perspective. Sixteen years between World Cup semifinals is a long time, after all.
Switching allegiance from New Zealand to England allowed Mitchell to push past that semifinal barrier last month in Japan – a goal he failed to achieve with the All Blacks previously.
There is a sense of irony that Mitchell sat in the opposing coaching box, with a red rose on his white shirt, playing a major role in England's commanding performance and crushing defence that dumped the All Blacks out of this year's tournament.
Back in 2003, Mitchell suffered contrasting fate as he and Robbie Deans watched their All Blacks side crumble in the semifinal loss to Australia in Sydney.
"Rugby for me in 2003 was life or death," Mitchell reflects in London this week. "I probably didn't have my balance right. It was really important to win and when we didn't I took the failure hard.
"To be back here now there was always a commitment in my own self to say I want to enjoy this."
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Knowing the cut-throat nature World Cups bring, even during the pool stages of this year's event Mitchell adopted a self-preservation approach. Deep down, those '03 scars clearly linger.
"I'd pack my back before I hopped on the bus thinking I'm either going to be coming back or leaving the next morning. That was my respectful approach which has come from the past.
"The game is really important but it's not the most important thing in my life. I generally try and have fun and use my experience as much as I can. At this age now coaching is really enjoyable."
Naturally, having endured the same pain, Mitchell related to the devastated All Blacks in Yokohama. This time, though, he was a root cause.
"You could see they were gutted. The great thing about this game is you've got to take the good with the bad. You've got stay in a losing changing room and go and greet a winning changing room.
"A lot of people don't see what goes on in the tunnel. In all the knockout games there is generally respect either way.
"It was good to go and see a couple of mates in the All Blacks changing room. You don't overstay your welcome but you see their hurt and you understand their hurt then you get out of there because you feel people need their space."
Despite his role in the All Blacks' premature World Cup exit from Japan there appears no guilt, no mixed emotions. This was pure business. Nothing more, nothing less.
Some 20 years ago, when Mitchell accepted the England forwards coaching brief, he confronted a very different feeling.
Coaching Sale at the time, Mitchell was first asked to lead England A. He stopped, considered the implications, and called former All Blacks midfielder Matthew Cooper among other Waikato friends.
"I'm very proud to be a Kiwi. I thought 'I'm a New Zealander, I'm a former All Black, how can I do this, is it the right thing to do'? They said, 'no you're mad you've got to look after your career'.
"That was only just the start of professional rugby."
Mitchell, 34 at the time, recalls England's tour in which they lost all four tests under Clive Woodward to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in 1998.
Not until the first test in Dunedin, which England lost 64-22, did Mitchell grasp the true sense of coaching against his home nation.
"That was probably the first time it hit me emotionally. It got to me at that particular moment.
"I was probably a bit of a pioneer back then in terms of the position it was in. I probably should never have been in that position being so young but I was.
"Now the world is so cosmopolitan. We've got New Zealand, Australian, South African coaches all over the world.
"For me it's you've got a job to do. At the end of the day I'm committed to England and I'm an England assistant coach and very proud of that and really like the group we've worked with.
"It doesn't emotionally get to me like it did back then."
Mitchell's impact has been widely recognised since he joined England as defence coach last September.
Initial fears about his turbulent track record, combative nature and strong personality quickly faded as he proved there is a place for senior assistant coaches in the modern game.
He and Eddie Jones gelled so well that their contracts were jointly extended for two years prior to the World Cup – Mitchell revealing he turned down an offer to return home with the Chiefs in the process.
After working with England two decades ago, when centurion prop Jason Leonard was accompanied by tea and sandwiches in the changing rooms, Mitchell felt pangs of nostalgia as he rejoined the team for last year's November internationals.
"It was out of the blue to get a call from Eddie. The timing was brilliant because I'd turned down an extension with the Bulls to stay with them for another three years. I felt it was the right decision to make based on my information and what the future held.
"Standing in the changing room before the captain's run cosmetically it's changed but structurally it's the same room. It felt good, it felt familiar.
"It's always nervous in any new environment you've got to meet new people and build new relationships. You've got to build trust, get permission before you can dive in there and change ways or thinking.
"Experience has certainly helped me in that area."
Mitchell drew experience from leading defence with the United States and Bulls to devise England's strategy. With players learning myriad attacking and lineout moves each week, his policy is simplicity. He floats ideas. Players then accept and evolve or discard them.
"It's being driven around the ability to be fast and put pressure on the attack. If we work really hard for each other generally within three phases something is going to happen.
"It's more about feeding attack these days because there's not a lot of space. As you see in World Cup cycles, they tend to go very defensive. You've got to look at ways of creating turnovers and feeding your attack which is something I think we do well.
"It's never finite. The players own it I just guide it. If we can create a defensive programme that allows people not to overthink and get out there and do their job for each other and stay connected then it keeps it simple.
"We're always looking at where we can get more speed, where we can get more connected and work harder. It's a fascinating area.
"It's amazing having been a forwards coach and done a lot of attack to now be a defence coach is a breath of fresh air. You've got to be familiar with attack because it does help you solve situations."
Many of England's leading players are still processing the anguish of beating the All Blacks only to be outplayed in a similar fashion by South Africa in the final.
A little over two weeks on from that defeat to the Boks and Mitchell already seems at peace.
One World Cup semifinal failure, one victory, provides perspective.
"I've been really accepting of it actually. You feel disappointed for the players because they put a lot into it and you present yourself that opportunity and you miss that so you feel for them.
"The Boks deserved to win and we were poor on the day. That's something we have to accept. It's the past and you've got to get on with life. You've got to find a way to get better, and we will. We've got to use that experience."