The 2003-04 Vols came crashing back to Earth in Game 11, suffering a 95-57 humiliation in their SEC road opener at Florida. That game proved to be a preview of things to come, as the Big Orange won just six of its last 19 games, finishing the season with a 15-14 record.
Senior forward Stanley Asumnu was a member of that '03-04 team, so he is acutely aware that a bright outlook can fade in a hurry once SEC play begins and the level of opposition rises.
"It's better competition," he said. "Any given night any team can beat anybody. It'll be tougher games. A lot of games come down to the final minute. Defense and rebounding win championships, and we've got to improve defense and rebounding.
"Not taking anything away from (those teams) but an SEC game is a totally different thing," Asumnu said. "Games like that you have to bring you're A-game."
With SEC play about to begin, the Vols had better bring their A-game every night. Otherwise, the 9-1 start of 2005-06 could be forgotten just as quickly as the 9-1 start of 2003-04 was.