The FA Cup holds special memories for Mikel Arteta.
When he was brought to Arsenal from Everton by Arsene Wenger during that late trolley dash in the 2011 summer transfer window, the Gunners had gone six years without a trophy.
But less than three years later that drought was ended in dramatic style at Wembley as Arsenal came from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 to lift the FA Cup for what was then a record-equalling 11th time.
Aaron Ramsey may have been the hero thanks to his extra-time winner, but it was Arteta who captained the side on that emotional afternoon as London’s most successful club brought an end to their long wait for some silverware.
And he knows better than most just how important that victory was and how it helped the club go on to lift the cup again in 2015 when Aston Villa were thumped 4-0 in the final, and also in 2017 when Ramsey was the hero once again, this time scoring the winner to sink Chelsea 2-1.
“When I arrived here we were trying to fight for the Premier League. At the time we didn’t quite have the level to sustain every year to do that so the cups became very important,” said the Spaniard, who will take charge of his first FA Cup tie as Arsenal head coach on Monday night against Leeds United at Emirates Stadium.
“Obviously this club has a massive history with that and it was years without winning absolutely anything. For us to lift that first FA Cup for this football club was a massive relief.
“It generated a really good belief and unity around our team. That helped that group of players to achieve what they achieved later when they won other cups.”
That success against Chelsea remains Arsenal’s last major trophy, with the Gunners losing two finals since then - in the Carabao Cup in 2018 and the Europa League in 2019.
There has been huge change since the Gunners lifted their 13th FA Cup. Only Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin and Mesut Ozil remain from the match day squad that were involved at Wembley less than three years ago.
The winning mentality and feeling of optimism that had been built up by lifting three trophies in four seasons have been replaced by an atmosphere of negativity and frustration.
Arsenal now find themselves in a position similar to the one they were in before the victory against Hull in 2014. They are a club in desperate need of a lift.
They are miles away from a title challenge in the Premier League, something that was demonstrated by the fact they finished 28 points behind champions Manchester City last season and they already sit 31 behind runaway leaders Liverpool this time around.
Arteta’s arrival has at least brought some optimism back to the club , however. There is a genuine belief that, once he gets his own players in, he can start laying the foundations which will enable the Gunners to start competing with the elite again once again.
But he is aware that the only real way of bringing everyone at the club together again after such a difficult period is to be successful, which is why the FA Cup will be taken seriously this season.
“Winning brings togetherness,” Arteta said. “When you have beautiful experiences together and win trophies those experiences stay within the group. You like more the people you work with, you believe in them, you share some fantastic moments. That stays.
“That habit of winning, winning, winning. When you win you don’t want to stop. You become addicts to that. We have to try to implement that at this football club.”
The change in mood at Arsenal since Arteta was appointed before Christmas has been palpable.
Players who seemed to be going through the motions during the final weeks of Unai Emery’s tenure have been transformed and others who perhaps looked to be on the way out of the club have been brought back into the fold.
Xhaka has been persuaded to stay until the summer at least, Lucas Torreira is back to the type of form we saw when he first arrived from Sampdoria and Ozil is playing as well as he has for a long time .
But it’s not just the players who have been energised, it’s the fan base as well.
From the moment he returned to north London, Arteta has called for everyone connected with the club to come together again and the crackling atmosphere that was created during the win against Manchester United showed the supporters are firmly backing their former captain.
Arteta has been touched by the way the fans have welcomed him back and knows that, without their support, he will never be able to achieve the goals he has set for himself in north London.
“It’s too powerful, the fan base we have,” he said. “Our history. How much these people have been with this football club, the great players and teams they’ve seen. That connection is so powerful. Without it I think that’s impossible.
“They’re looking for success again for this football club, they’re used to that, there’s a history relating to that.”
Those fans know that success in the Premier League is still some way off, but in the FA Cup there is certainly an opportunity for Arsenal this season.
In 2014, Arteta saw first hand as a player what one victory can do for a club, now he hopes to replicate that as a coach.