It is pierced deep into the Irish psyche. That residual fear induced by the Leaving Certificate exam which manifests itself at times of stress later in life. This typically involves a sharp interruption of slumber time as the doubt-filled Leaving Cert dream reappears with its perpetual message of ill-preparedness.
Amid the somewhat heightened prospect of a pre-Christmas general election here, it can be confirmed that at least one Fine Gael Minister has relived that dream in recent days. Swift preparations followed to ensure that they were election ready. Posters, new photographs and constituency-focused literature were all ordered.
This shows that this latest round of election speculation is being taken seriously. Some say the atmosphere is comparable only to the time when Frances Fitzgerald resigned in late November 2017. Back then, Michael Noonan warned colleagues they would have to push past inflatable Santas on their way to canvass on the door steps.
But it all comes of course with a colossal caveat. A Brexit deal has to be agreed between the EU and the UK and then get ratified in Westminster.
Senior figures within the Taoiseach's inner circle are also stating privately that a 2019 general election is not a runner.
Several veterans working within Leinster House are sceptical too about all the renewed election chatter.
They feel it was sparked by some initial over enthusiasm within the Government party in the aftermath of the Taoiseach's meeting with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, last Thursday.
There is a feeling that this talk is being generated solely by TDs and ministers who are viewing things through the rather narrow, if no less fundamental, prism of their own re-election.
The view is that the Taoiseach would have done nothing to set in motion this latest round of speculation.
However, it remains alluring for many politicians in Fine Gael. The logic is that they would enter this election with momentum generated by the possible Brexit agreement.
The Government's ongoing failings around health and housing are unlikely to improve as the winter drags on.
A short campaign in late November that would be played out in the media more than on the canvass trail is seen as advantageous.
There are even loose sketches about how the election debate might unfold with Brexit dominating the opening days. Then health and housing would come to the fore before the focus would shift to the running of the economy for the final week of the campaign.
This is where Fine Gael thinks it could gain electoral strength; and it might be what the Taoiseach is referring to when he talks about the likelihood of victory only becoming apparent in the days leading up to the vote.
November too is seen as a more preferable time to hold an election according to those who have walked the trail of February elections in 2011 and again in 2016.
"People are in bad form then. Christmas is over, they have no money and they haven't seen the sun for six months," said one TD.
There is another consideration and it is the desire by many Government TDs to bring an end to the anxiety that an election could happen soon after Christmas.
Fianna Fáil have already described any move towards an early election as a "stroke". At the same time however, there is no fear within the party of an election.
The key thing to watch is whether the Taoiseach tells his colleagues at Cabinet today to call a halt to all this election talk. That would surely draw a line under the matter, or would it?