Steve Spagnuolo has been indoctrinating his mostly young Giants defense in the lore of the franchise since he arrived, offering history lessons and even pop quizzes about the backbone of championship teams of yore. The idea is to recapture some of that glory.

There is one chapter, though, that he has passed over.

Spagnuolo's defense looked infamously feeble in its first two games of 2007, his first season as defensive coordinator with the Giants.

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"To be honest with you, my mind doesn't venture back there very much," he told Newsday. "It's old hat. How often does history repeat itself, good, bad or indifferent?"

So no, he's not worried about getting off to another slow start.

"None of us know what's going to happen," he said of his second debut with the team.

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Players have spent the summer referring to Spagnuolo's defense as "complex," which leads you to believe they could be in for some growing pains. Tom Coughlin downplayed that assessment.

"Complex is probably a term that you can apply to any defense at this level, the sophistication of which is to try and defend the talented athletes that are part of the National Football League," he said. "I doubt it will be verbalization that will hold us back. Once we get to a game plan and we zoom in and we feel like the players can handle the plan, then I think we'll go and play and play hard."

Spagnuolo agreed that slicing the scheme from playbook size down to game-plan portions should help.

"I don't know that the full volume is in yet, but I don't know that we need the full volume," he said of his system and its installation. "Sometimes in the first game, you play a little faster, a little bit better with less thinking. So we've been conscious of that and purposely haven't put things in . . . The important thing in the first game is the in-game adjustments. I don't know what [the Cowboys] will do. We're trying to guess a little bit. Hopefully our fundamentals, our basics, will cover most of that."

And if they don't, well, there still might be time. After all, the history of the abysmal 2007 start didn't end with a win in Week 3. It ended in Week 21 with a Super Bowl victory.

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If the Giants struggle early this season, perhaps Spagnuolo will remember more of his first go-round here.

"We're just going to take it one play at a time," he said. "The battle cry since the first day we got together was to be better today than we were yesterday from now until February. If we can do that, then the guys are working like we want."