David James feels lifting the FA Cup two years ago was the beginning of the end for Portsmouth's golden era - but would love to do it all over again at Wembley on Saturday.
Since Harry Redknapp led Pompey to glory with victory against Cardiff at the national stadium and while James is in no doubt while Pompey were right to aim to punch above their weight, that achievement in the Wembley sunshine ultimately came back to haunt them.
"It has had a terrible effect on the club over arguably the last 18 months. Qualifying for Europe was financial and physically damaging for the club. What we spent two years building up as a decent resilient side was pretty much undone in a couple of months," said James.
"To offer people the opportunity of big bonuses to qualify for Europe seems like a pretty safe bet, simply because you do not anticipate a club like Portsmouth winning the cup and our league form in the first season I was here, as much as it was progressive, would not have led us to believe we were going to finish in the top seven.
"Had we not won the FA Cup, bizarrely it would probably have done us a lot better, because we would not have qualified for Europe and would have been able to build on two decent years of progression.
"Having won the cup, the financial impact was crippling and then as a squad we just were not kitted out to be able to sustain the European, as well as league and cup campaigns which followed. We ended up suffering on both fronts."
The FA Cup has traditionally produced some fairytale moments, but were Avram Grant's squad to beat the millionaires of his former club Chelsea, the famous old competition would surely have outdone itself - even after Pompey's unexpected semi-final victory over Tottenham and former boss Redknapp.
"Before the semi-final, people pointed out the long odds for us to get anything out of the Spurs game," James recalled.
"Had we lost, everyone would have said: 'That was expected, but well done for getting to the semi'. But that was more than just proving other people wrong - I think we proved ourselves right.
"Now after what has been a traumatic season in the Premier League and off-the-field, it is great for Pompey to have something to look forward to."
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