Colm Cooper believes anyone pining for a return to kicking football where teams square up to each other man on man are wasting their time as the game's evolution takes it elsewhere.

With blanket defences, incessant handpassing and supreme fitness all changing how the game is played at inter-county level, many long for a return to days gone by, when kicking and fielding were the more prominent skills.

Cooper, speaking on the RTÉ League Sunday Extra podcast, understands that desire, but warned that ultimately it's futile.

"Coming from Kerry, we like to think we are a very pure footballing county and we like to kick the ball an awful lot but with county managers, these days, if you're kicking a ball and it's coming back to you fairly quickly, you're not going to continue doing that," the Kerry great said.

"We would all love to go to matches and see 15 on 15, man on man, but that day is gone. We're fooling ourselves if we expect to see that.

"If you look at Dublin when they're in their pomp and you've James McCarthy taking off or Con O'Callaghan taking off on a run, it excites the stadium, it excites the players, it becomes infectious. There are many ways to play the game.

"There's hundreds of ways to play football and kicking the ball is just one of them."

Despite that, Cooper did stress that attacking teams are still the ones who claim the big prizes come the end of the summer.

Defensive set-ups have reaped rewards - most notably for Donegal, who won the All-Ireland under Jim McGuinness with a famously heavy focus on getting men behind the ball - but the Gooch says that unless you hit the magic mark of 20 points in Croke Park, you can forget about silver.

"There has been a lot of massed defences in recent years and teams have adapted.

"My only concern about the massed defence from a team's point of view is, I think to win a big championship match in the summer in Croke Park, you need to get to 20 points.

"If you play with an extra man back you're not going to have the ball for large periods so you're going to struggle to get to those scores."