As far as Stephen Rochford is concerned, Gavin White got off to a good start in the drawn All-Ireland final.

The Kerry captain was given the unenviable job of curbing the influence of Jack McCaffrey, with his athleticism seen as ideal for the demanding role of keeping tabs on the marauding wing-back.

The plan was working well until the 19th minute when McCaffrey sprinted from inside his own 45 to take Niall Scully's handpass and smash the ball past Shane Ryan.

White’s crime was failing to win the aerial duel against Brian Howard from Stephen Cluxton’s kick-out.

"On reflection, Kerry would be telling Gavin White not to contest that ball in the air. The bigger threat is knowing where Jack McCaffrey is on the ground."

Former Kildare manager Cian O’Neill was watching proceedings closely and believes that White was only picking up McCaffrey when he entered the Kerry half so as to offer protection to the defence.

On top of that, he argues the Dublin goal was down to a systems failure than any shortcoming by White.

Or to give credit to Dublin, it was their way of dealing with Kerry's high press of four in the full-forward line, four in the half-forward line and four across the middle, where notionally White would have picked up McCaffrey

"Jack McCaffrey was drifting back towards the D," O’Neill explains. "Gavin White couldn’t follow him because that was a zone press by Kerry. The reason it is effective is because every single player knows their role in that press. If White left the zone, he would have left a pocket for Stephen Cluxton to exploit.

"For the goal White was in his right position, but no-one was keeping an eye on McCaffrey. You need to plan for that happening. The front-four press, which is only concerned about the short kick-out, as soon as it goes long, somebody has to sprint to the free man."

The Clontarf man would add three further points and for the second year in a row scoop the man of the match award on final day. White departed for Jack Sherwood less than 15 minutes into the second half.

When devising a plan to thwart the speed merchant, Cork manager Ronan McCarthy (below) says the importance of the collective cannot be underestimated.

"As important as the match-up is, it's vital to have the cover defence when dealing with a player with his pace," he says having watched McCaffrey also raise the green flag in their Super 8s clash.

However, that game was a further illustration of the trend teams are adopting against the champions and, in particular, McCaffrey. Cork wing-back Mattie Taylor was pushed higher up the pitch to take on the 2015 Player of the Year and chipped in with a point, while a decent goal opportunity went a begging.

In last month's semi-final, Paddy Durcan was also stationed further up the field and ended the game with two points, a somewhat disappointing return for the six shots attempted by the Castlebar man over the course of the game.

O'Neill backs up McCarthy’s focus on the collective game plan versus individual match-ups.

"Mayo had a very solid strategy of building their game plan around getting the ball to Paddy Durcan as often as possible. It’s not as simple as just put someone on him and put McCaffrey on the backfoot because if the ball goes the other wing, it makes no difference. That’s where coaching and game analysis comes in."

"There is a balance that needs to be struck, but you must occupy him defensively," says Rochford, who assigned Kevin McLoughlin to the role for the 2017 decider.

That particular assignment was scrapped after just 10 minutes when McCaffrey suffered a cruciate ligament injury.

You need the player to be a real influence and test McCaffrey and the Dublin defence

"We wanted Kevin, and whoever is on Jack, to get on as much ball as possible in a dangerous area of the field, the middle link area. You need the player to be a real influence and test McCaffrey and the Dublin defence." 

Staying in the Dublin defence, the burning question for Jim Gavin is whether to stick or twist with Jonny Cooper.

The experienced Na Fianna man, who including replays has started seven All-Ireland finals, was given his marching orders for repeated fouling on David Clifford.

Mick Fitzsimons appeared to fare a little better on the Fossa man, though Clifford did drift out after the break and still picked off a fine point.

"I don't think Cooper's position is up for grabs, but I would be surprised if he lined up against Clifford," says Rochford.

"I was watching the game from the Hogan Stand and he just didn't look comfortable. He marked Cillian O'Connor in the semi-final at full-back, but Cillian had missed a lot of the season and Jonny himself has missed a few games."

Given his incredible level of success since taking over as Dublin manager in late 2012, Gavin's tactical judgement has rarely been called into question, but the decision to leave Cooper on the Kerry dangerman raised a few eyebrows.

Not entirely justly according to Cork boss McCarthy.

"I thought the criticism was way over the top. It's very easy to be wise after the event. Defenders will often pick up yellow cards, but you have to trust the player. It would be one thing if it was an inexperienced player, but Jonny Cooper is one of the best defenders around."

How he deals with one of his most loyal and capable lieutenants will be a test of man-management, though O’Neill admits he was surprised that there wasn't more decisive action taken on the sideline.

"It wasn’t like Jonny picked up an unlucky yellow card out of nowhere. He was being well beaten on the day. Maybe Jim was waiting to get until half-time, I’m not sure. Sometimes the answers are right in front of you."

O’Neill, who has watched Cooper from close quarters during his stints with Mayo and Kildare, says the tigerish defender has all the credentials and ability to bounce back, but that the early moments of the game will be huge for the 29-year-old.

If Jim Gavin decide to move Cooper onto someone else, then even before the ball is thrown in, where is Jonny's mindset?

"If Cooper stays on Clifford and Clifford wins the first few balls, you have to then question Cooper’s internal dialogue at that point. How will that impact his performance?

"The flip side is that if Jim and his backroom team decide to move him onto someone else, then even before the ball is thrown in, where is Jonny’s mindset?"

It is of course just one of a number of factors that will decide whether Dublin make history or Kerry prevent it.

One of the big lessons Rochford learned from the 2016 final replay against Dublin was preparing in detail for every eventuality in terms of opposition personnel. Having the match-ups is only half the battle, the plan must be locked and loaded for the artillery off the bench.

Ultimately however, history is written by the victors. Rightly or wrongly, the narrative will be that the decisions made by the winners were the right ones and vice versa. 

"The thing is, anyone looking in and commenting like this has no skin in the game. Your head was never on the block to make decisions," Rochford says.

"There is no definitive answer. At the final whistle, people may perceive that the winning manager has got the right answer, or the losing manager the wrong answer.

"The result solely dictates that opinion and that's not always fair, but that's the reality."

Follow Dublin v Kerry (6pm) in the All-Ireland SFC final replay via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie and the News Now app, watch live on RTÉ2's The Saturday Game or listen to radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.