Perhaps it's no great surprise that the Argos, circa 2004, are off to a slow start with only one win in three games.
It has been a common thread for the Argos since winning back-to-back Grey Cups in 1996 and 1997 after solid starts.
When asked this week why the Argos traditionally start off slowly, coach Pinball Clemons laughed uncomfortably and said, "No comment."
When pressed, Clemons said, "It's always better to bank wins. There is no exception, period. If there's an answer to why (the Argos have started slowly), we wouldn't be 1-2. That's very simple. I can assess what it may be due to this year, but to try to say from 1998 why, I don't think is fair. I can't assess that."
In 1998 -- after quarterback Doug Flutie's departure to the National Football League following two great seasons, but with Don Matthews in his third consecutive season as coach -- the Argos started 1-3. They finished 9-9, losing their final three regular-season games and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Little changed the next season with Jim Barker as coach. The Argos went 0-2 and 1-3 before finishing 9-9. They lost, again, in the first round of the playoffs.
In 2000 under controversial coach John Huard, the Argos opened with a win. But Huard was fired after eight games as the Argos crashed back to reality with a 1-6-1 start. Clemons took over, guiding the Argos to a 6-4 record with two of the losses coming with him as a player/coach. The Argos missed the playoffs.
In 2001, Clemons' first full season as coach, the Argos started off 0-3, finished at 7-11-0-1 and again missed the playoffs.
In 2002, with Gary Etcheverry as the new coach, the Argos started 0-2. Etcheverry was fired after 12 games (3-9) and Clemons took over again following a stint as team president. He led the Argos to the playoffs, finishing one game short of the Grey Cup.
Last year the team started 1-3, finished 9-9 and made the playoffs, again coming within a game of the Grey Cup.
It's worth noting that since the Flutie era there have been numerous changes in offensive systems and personnel, notably the starting quarterback spot, while the defence has maintained a reasonable degree of continuity, in players and/or scheme. Defences usually start off quicker than offences and more often than not since the Grey Cup days, the Argos have been strong defensively.
"Obviously we're very early in the season now, but having it happen so often in the past six years it's not a position you want to put yourself in, especially when you see at the end of the season how good you can be," said offensive lineman Jude St. John, who joined the Argos in 1998 from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"You have to balance the fact that you have a long season and a lot of things can happen. You want to care enough and be intense about (the poor start) because you don't like it the way it is, and yet not let it build to a level of frustration where it affects how you play."
Veteran safety Orlondo Steinauer admitted that starting off the season slowly is sadly becoming old hat.
"But it's the hand you're dealt," he said. "Each team is different each year. If you get off to a better start, you kind of create for yourself a little working space. When you're underneath, it just takes longer, especially with the East off to a great start. But it's three games into the season and I've been around long enough to know that three games doesn't make or break a season. Although I've also played long enough to know you can't let teams get out too far or it's going to make for a long year."