James Horan’s first big aim for the summer will be to reassert Mayo’s authority in Connacht - starting with Roscommon on Saturday night in Castlebar.

Under his command first time around the Green Above the Red didn’t lose a single game in their province, winning all 11 outings and taking four Nestor Cups on the bounce.

In the four seasons since then, they have played seven games, wining only four, losing three and winning one Connacht title. Galway have taken two of the available crowns since and Roscommon the other.

It’s a far more democratic province than it used to be when Horan was in charge between 2011 and 2014. That’s something he’ll be looking to change.

The path through the All-Ireland qualifiers is simply too fraught with danger to consider and with the addition of the Super 8s groups at the quarter-final stage anything other than the direct route leads to a potentially season-ending logjam of games.

Andy Moran lifts the Nestor Cup in 2014

The joint-management team of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes finished Horan’s work in their sole season in charge, retaining the silverware and completing a Connacht five in-a-row. They beat Galway in 2015 - the last time this has happened.

Stephen Rochford might have brought Mayo to two All-Ireland finals, three if you count the 2016 replay, and got them to within a hair’s breadth of winning Sam Maguire, but he simply couldn’t get a handle on Connacht - or the Tribesmen.

The Tribesmen have been the single biggest obstacle in the way of direct progress towards the All-Ireland series since.

During his three-year stint they had to go the qualifier route, each time after losing to Galway. An early backdoor exit to Kildare last summer ended his interest in the job and opened the door for Horan’s return.

The job that Horan did in rebuilding Mayo in such a short space of time and making them relevant on the national stage again shouldn’t be underestimated.

He walked in to the wreckage that was left after the calamitous All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Longford which prompted John O’Mahony to walk away. O’Mahony was identified as the man to bring back Sam so when he left it seemed they were headed for at least a few years of obscurity.

Galway have had the upper hand over Mayo

But within a matter of months Mayo had the Connacht title in the bag again, had knocked All-Ireland champions Cork out at the quarter-final stage and gave an experienced Kerry side a serious run for their money in the semi-final.

That was the start of the run that lasted until 2017 which saw them make four All-Ireland finals, excluding that 2016 draw, and the last four on three further occasions. That streak was finally broken only last summer when they ran out of gas in Newbridge against Kildare in a third round qualifier.

The bedrock of Horan’s management was winning Connacht every year - played 11, won 11, drawn none, lost none is an impressive record, beating every other county in the province at least once.

The peak of their regional dominance came in 2013 when they won their three games, against Galway, Roscommon and London in that order, by a combined 45 points. It’s worth noting that the single biggest victory in the campaign was by 17 points against Galway in the quarter-finals.

The Tribesmen have been the single biggest obstacle in the way of direct progress towards the All-Ireland series since.

Dublin have broken Mayo hearts plenty of times

Apart from 2015, Mayo have lost to their neighbours in the 2016 semi-final by a goal, at the same stage 12 months later by a point and last season by a goal in the quarter-final.

Under the two management teams that have come in the four seasons since Horan they have managed one over Galway, one over London and two over Sligo (which isn’t counting this summer’s opener against New York in the Big Apple).

Indeed, Horan’s managerial record both inside and outside of Connacht would stand up to scrutiny alongside the very best.

Under him the between ’11 and ’14 Mayo played 22 championship games, won 17, drew one and lost only four. The four they lost were two All-Ireland semi-finals and two All-Ireland finals. The only year they weren’t knocked out by the eventual champions was ’11, Horan’s first year.

Since Horan, and not counting New York in May, Mayo’s championship record is P 28, W17, D4, L7.