Tom Coughlin wanted to see which New York Giants team would show up.
Would it be the one that went 7-7 in 2011 or the one that finished that magical year winning six do-or-die games to win the Super Bowl?
The answer was not what Coughlin was hoping for. The 2012 Giants were unpredictable and not nearly as clutch as 2011's team, capable of dominating contenders like San Francisco and Green Bay only to completely vanish when Coughlin needed them to show up the most in Atlanta and Baltimore.
They started the season 6-2 yet again but finished with a 9-7 record for a second straight year. The problem is 9-7 wasn't good enough this time to win the NFC East and get into the playoffs.
Here's the 2012 final report card:
Giants postseason awards
Offensive MVP: WR Victor Cruz. With Nicks hurt, Cruz was the Giants' biggest offensive weapon.
Defensive MVP: S Stevie Brown. Giants were 6-0 when he had one of his eight INTs.
Special-teams MVP: KR David Wilson. Set the franchise record for kickoff return yards and added a new dimension to the Giants' special teams.
Most improved: RB Andre Brown. He scored eight touchdowns until he suffered a broken leg.
Least improved: WR Jerrel Jernigan. Still waiting to see what 2011 third-round pick can do.
Biggest surprise: Brown. He made the team as an extra safety and special-teamer only to emerge as a playmaker in a down year for defense.
Biggest disappointment: CB Corey Webster. The team's top corner struggled.
Best rookie: Wilson. The electric KR showed big-play potential once out of the doghouse.
Best offseason acquisition: TE Martellus Bennett. Giants gambled on untapped potential and Bennett showed promise.
Worst offseason acquisition: DT Shaun Rogers. Giants could have used him as a run-stuffer but he was lost in preseason due to a blood clot.
Best-kept secret: FB Henry Hynoski. Quietly had very solid season and was terrific blocker.
Best coaching move: Preparing backups like T Sean Locklear to start in preseason and using Andre Brown as change-of-pace back.
Biggest concern: Can the Giants rediscover the fire, passion and chemistry of that '11 Super Bowl run or is the magic gone?
Key to the offseason: Re-signing free agents like Bennett, T Will Beatty; adding a few more pieces at OL, DL, LB, CB; and getting key veterans to have a bounce-back season.
Player ready to emerge next season: Wilson and WR Rueben Randle. The top two '12 draft picks showed they can take on bigger roles in season finale.
Least likely to return next season: DE Osi Umenyiora. Osi wants starter money, starting job and sounds ready for fresh start elsewhere.