It was laughed at, ridiculed and verbally beaten for weeks. Four games for Kansas University's football team in the notorious nonconference schedule, against four tremendously inferior opponents: Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International.
All were in the cozy confines of Memorial Stadium, and none ever was in doubt.
Kansas outscored the pastries, 214-23.
So after KU beat Kansas State, 30-24, Saturday in Manhattan to start Big 12 Conference play, it was time to examine just what the September slate did to help the Jayhawks win their latest game on the road.
"I think it's a key factor," Mangino said Monday. "You have to reflect back a year ago. We were a 6-6 team, lost some tough games. There are several factors involved, and we addressed each and every factor head-on.
"One of the factors - it wasn't the biggest factor - but one of the factors was confidence. We felt like being 4-0 in nonconference play developed confidence in our players for Big 12 competition."
Certainly, KU's players showed a sense of poise they didn't have last year. When a pass from quarterback Todd Reesing thunked off Dexton Fields' helmet and was intercepted by K-State's Chris Carney with 8:52 remaining, it was just the sort of bad break - especially late in the game - that doomed the Jayhawks in 2006.
K-State ended up scoring to go up 24-21 with 7:32 to play. But just 65 seconds later, Kansas answered when Reesing found - who else? - Dexton Fields for a 30-yard redemption score to put Kansas back on top 27-24. It proved to be the winning score.
Would a 2-2 or 3-1 team have recovered like that? It's hard to say. But a 4-0 team did. And now the Jayhawks are 5-0 heading into Saturday's home game with Baylor.
"They do a good job of scheduling to help their program and help them come out of the hole, which is always good," Baylor coach Guy Morriss said of the Jayhawks. "They took advantage of that."
Besides the confidence aspect, Mangino felt September was helpful in terms of personnel. Players like safety Patrick Resby, cornerback Chris Harris, receiver Dezmon Briscoe and left guard Adrian Mayes proved their worth in September, and all had big games against Kansas State.
"It gave us a chance to look at who we have," Mangino said. "Do we have people in the right spots, and what adjustments do we need to make when we get to conference play?"