Having debuted as a charter member of the American Football League in 1960, the Patriots have been playing on Sundays for more than 50 years. And, lest young fans of the club forget, not all eras in Patriots' history were as successful as this particular stretch of merciless, unrelenting excellence helmed by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
These Belichick-Brady Patriots are making their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 11 years. However, the franchise managed just two visits to football's biggest game for the balance of its existence. The first of those earlier Super Bowl visits came in 1986 when the team was relegated to supporting actor status in the climactic scenes of a dominant season by the Chicago Bears. The other Super Bowl berth came in 1996.
The arrival of Bill Parcells in Foxboro in 1993 was not only the first step down toward that '96 Super Bowl but was truly the beginning of the club's ascendance into the upper echelon of NFL teams. Certainly, the quarterback that Parcells started in Super Bowl XXXI, Drew Bledsoe, has a prominent role to play in the creation myth of this current team. After all, it was an injury to Bledsoe that propelled the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft -- an unathletic quarterback out of the University Michigan named Tom Brady -- into the starting lineup in the autumn of 2001.
From there, well, you probably know the rest of the story.
Here are highlights from each of the Patriots' previous Super Bowl appearances. Re-live each game's key moments and vote for the most memorable performance.