It happened after they won their first title in February 2008 and it happened again last season. Both times, the Giants went into the season feeling like they had a chance to repeat and came up short.
It's a lesson that wasn't lost on Coughlin or the two-time Super Bowl MVP Friday as the Giants (9-7) reported to training camp. Indeed, things need to change this season if the Giants want to play for another title.
And this time, the Super Bowl will be in their backyard, at MetLife Stadium.
"Each year you are hungry for it and yeah, I am hungry for my third," Manning said after the players ended their first day with a conditioning drill. "And as a team, I am hungry for each player. Either guys are trying to get their second or some guys are trying to get their first. You want everybody to have that experience, to know that you are the best team in the NFL that year, that sense of accomplishment.
"That feeling is contagious."
The Giants put themselves in position to get back to the playoffs last season by winning six of their first eight games. They only won three the rest of the way.
"Last year's experience at the end of the year was not a very pretty one," Coughlin said in a reference to being outscored 67-14 by the Falcons and Ravens in consecutive games. "We didn't play as well as we're capable of playing. So I think that's on everybody's mind. We're better than that. "
Coughlin refused to say whether that will be the team motto this season, but it sounds good. And he's had a couple of good ones in his Super Bowl seasons: "Finish" and "All In."
The Giants didn't make a lot of big splashes in the offseason market, but they retained catalyst receiver Victor Cruz for the long term, re-signed left tackle Will Beatty, drafted a couple of linemen in offensive tackle Justin Pugh (first round) and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (second round), and cleared the way for 2012 first-round pick David Wilson to take over at running back by releasing Ahmad Bradshaw.
Receiver Hakeem Nicks has recovered from foot and knee problems. That should open up the offense some, and give Manning a second option down the field.
"I think we can definitely do some big things, I think we have all the talent in place, the tools," said Cruz, who signed a five-year, $43 million contract earlier this month. "It's just a matter of us coming together as a team, as a family. If we can do that, the sky is the limit for us.
"The upside of this team is tremendous."
The major concern for the Giants is the defense, which ranked in the middle of the pack in points allowed (344), and finished next to last in yards allowed (383.4).
Safety Antrel Rolle expects improvement.
"I think hunger is an understatement for what we have in mind, for what we're trying to pursue as far as the defense," he said. "We're just trying to be more consistent, trying to definitely develop that intimidating factor.
"No one is going to give you anything in this league."
NOTES: The Giants placed defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, guard Chris Snee, fullback Henry Hynoski, cornerback Terrell Thomas and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn on active physically unable to perform list. ... Pierre-Paul had back surgery and is progressing well, Coughlin said. Snee (hip), Kuhn (knee), Hynoski (knee) and Thomas (knee) also had surgeries. ... C David Baas (no reason given) and WR Jerrel Jernigan (soreness) did not participate in the conditioning. ... The Giants signed FB Ryan D'Imperio and released PK David Buehler earlier in the day. ... The first practice will be Saturday. New York is training at its own Meadowlands facility after spending 16 of 17 seasons in Albany, N.Y.