Paul Flynn believes new manager Kevin McStay will need Mayo to add control in possession to their characteristic passion in defence if they are to mount a series tilt for Sam Maguire.
Former Dublin star Flynn lost an All-Ireland semi-final to the Connacht men in 2012 but was on the winning side in four subsequent championship meetings (two after replays) before he retired in 2019.
"We really struggled to play against this, when they have their intense game and they are implementing it well," he told RTÉ2's Allianz League Sunday.
"Even though we may have come out on top of a number of high-profile games against Mayo, we were never happy with the performance because we could never implement our game plan. We had to just figure it out.
"Their ability to put you under pressure on the ball, primarily from the kickout, is where they build that pressure and sustain it through the lines."
Flynn saw similar all-action characteristics as Mayo were roared on to a gutsy first-round draw against Galway at MacHale Park on Saturday but he thinks that cooler heads will be needed if they are to prevail later in the year.
"There was a bit of that there last night, which was good, but it's when they get the ball then that you want to see the control in their play, the structure," he said.
"If they are to get over the line and win an All-Ireland they are going to have to understand how to bring that control to their play.
"In particular when it's going down the stretch when the intensity is on and the crowd can be a detriment rather than in your favour. They are going to have to figure that out."