All the talk this week has been on how the Eels lack grand final experience compared with their hardened Penrith rivals who are preparing for a third decider in as many years.
We have to go back to 2009 for the last time Parramatta made it this far, and while none of their current players featured in the team that lost to the Storm, their current squad is littered with guys who have links to that famous day 13 years ago.
Front and centre of that is coach Brad Arthur, who was at the helm when Gareth Widdop scored a late try to help the Melbourne Storm beat the Wests Tigers to claim the Toyota Cup grand final.
It was his second year in charge of the under-20s side that had finished in the bottom four 12 months earlier but went all the way with a team that included Storm legend Jesse Bromwich.
A lot has changed since that afternoon, but Arthur credits his stint in Melbourne as an assistant coach under Craig Bellamy for laying the groundwork that helped forge his first-grade career.
“I was fortunate enough to get my opportunity through the Melbourne Storm, and I couldn’t have learnt through a better system,” Arthur said.
“Their attention to detail and their work ethic is very good. I’ve tried to take that through my coaching, but I also needed to forge my own style.
“Maybe when I first started coaching, I was probably too much of a task master and it was my way or the highway. But I’ve had to learn to deal with different personalities because you can’t treat them all exactly the same.
“I feel like I can still be firm when I need to be, but I’ve got more trust in the players. The trust is both ways now, and I feel like that’s been a progression in my coaching.”
Arthur isn’t the only current Eel with ties to that day, with a couple of players having family links to the triple treat of footy to end the 2009 season.
The Bankstown City Bulls belted the Balmain Ryde Tigers 32-0, with former NRL star Ben Barba scoring a hat-trick in the win.
That Tigers side had a couple of names you might recognise, with Stephen Moses and Brett Lane coming off the bench that day in reserve grade.
“That’s my brother,” Eels halfback Mitch Moses said.
“I was there. I’m a diehard Parramatta fan, so I was heartbroken with what happened in the grand final.
“He lost his GF as well, so it wasn’t a great day for our family. I learnt that you need to soak up the moment and the day and get the job done.”
Shaun Lane was also there that day, getting tickets for his first grand final to watch his brother play in the first game of the afternoon.
He was only 15 at the time but paid a bit more attention to the footy compared with 2011 when he mucked around with mates in the stands as Manly beat the Warriors.
“I was at that game. It was the first grand final I’d ever been to,” the back-rower said.
“I can’t remember much, but I know Ben Barba played and scored a hat-trick that day.
“My brother’s team had a lot of momentum and came from an outside position to make the final.
“They were a bunch of true blood reserve graders and didn’t have any fringe first graders to carry them. They were really close as a team and really good friends.
“It was new for me because I won a few grand finals playing club footy when I was a teenager but I haven’t been back since I started 20s.”