Mauricio Pochettino has called on Tottenham to replicate their performances in the resounding Wembley wins over Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
The Spurs manager believes his squad now has more big-game experience than a year ago, when they lost 4-2 to Chelsea in last season's semi-final, but he warned that it will count for nothing if they do not perform against Jose Mourinho's side.
Spurs beat Dortmund and European champions Real 3-1 and Liverpool 4-1 at temporary home Wembley in Autumn and Pochettino believes those performances are the benchmark for his team tomorrow.
"We have the belief that we can beat many teams, and we have more experience [than last year]," Pochettino told Standard Sport. "But I don't believe that is going to be the key to winning the game. Sure, we have a different level of experience now and that's always an important thing. But we need more than experience and maturity to win on Saturday.
"The most important thing is the performance. If we are able to perform in the way we performed against Real Madrid, Dortmund and Liverpool at home, I think we're going to compete. If not – with or without experience – it's going to be difficult."
Chelsea turned last season's semi-final by introducing Eden Hazard and Diego Costa from the bench at 2-2, with Hazard scoring their third goal.
Spurs, by contrast, were short of game-changing options and substitutes Georges-Kevin Nkoudou – now on loan at Burnley – and right-back Kyle Walker, who had already begun agitating for a summer transfer, made little impact.
But on Saturday, Pochettino is expected to name £25m January signing Lucas Moura, Fernando Llorente and one of Son Heung-Min and Erik Lamela among the substitutes.
"We try to improve every season. I'm not going to blame the players that were here before – I never complain or make excuses – but now of course we have players with good experience and good quality on the bench, and that's going to help us," he said.