TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When he was growing up in Georgia, future University of Alabama quarterback Blake Sims knew about the Iron Bowl rivalry of course, but like so many others didn’t have a full appreciation until he became part of it.

Sims grew up a Bulldogs fan, and to him the big rivalry was the annual Georgia Tech showdown for state bragging rights. Now after being on the sideline four times for Alabama and Auburn he probably gets what it’s all about as well as anyone.

“I just try to stay calm, keep the outside networking stuff away,” Sims said about his approach this week. “I try to focus on my family and my teammates and try to keep my composure and try not to listen to the negative things or the good things. Just stay to this week and know what I need to do.”

While one would expect all the monitors in the Crimson Tide’s football complex to be on a never-ending loop of Kick Six, Chris Davis’ touchdown return off the missed field goal as time expired last season, that’s no longer the case.

It was used for motivation during the offseason and in the weight room, but not Monday. Instead, the Crimson Tide kept things very low-key and close to the vest during Day 1 of Iron Bowl week.

“We all kind of remember what happened,” Coach Nick Saban said. “It was very, very disappointing to all of us here. Not just the last play but the last five minutes of the game that we never really every finished the game like we needed to. It was a tough way to lose a game, and I’m sure everybody sort of has that in mind.”

He didn’t raise his voice, grip the podium extra tightly while saying that, or even lift an eyebrow.

Saban didn’t need to. Anyone who has turned on ESPN over the past year has seen the return more than enough times, and strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran probably doesn’t have to scream the words “revenge” and “vengeance” again until after Thanksgiving.

“I take Coach Saban’s rule to heart, the 24-hour rule,” senior tackle Austin Shepherd said about the team policy of putting games in the rear-view mirror the next day. “Twenty-four hours it’s over. I’ve just kind of moved on from last year. A lot of people are lucky and they got lucky. Luck happens.”

Shepherd used the wrong word there, even if it is the one most Alabama fans have been saying since even before last year’s game (i.e. Georgia at Auburn), but that was the closest thing reporters got to an emotional response Monday. Junior cornerback Cyrus Jones offered, “No, I haven’t watched it,” and sophomore defensive end Jonathan Allen only opined: “Every loss motivated us.”

Nevertheless, this has become the game of games in college football as the last five winners of this showdown have gone on to play for the national title — which is why this week already has such a familiar feel to it.

Ever year since 2008 minus one the Crimson Tide has been in this position, with everything on the line. Alabama usually handles it well, but twice it did not, last year and 2010.

That’s when two-loss Alabama was playing the role of spoiler, ranked 11th while Auburn was No. 2 in the BCS rankings, and after jumping out to a 24-0 lead managed fall short 28-27.

“The 2010 game, that’s something that hurt a lot of people,” Sims said. “We tried to use that as a motivation and I feel like it helped us. In 2011 we did a good job. The main thing we’re trying to do, the way we played in 2011, that’s what we look back to if we’re looking to the past. We’re looking to 2011 and hoping we can do what we have to do like we did then.”

Nevertheless, during the 2010-11 offseason every Crimson Tide locker had a “Never again” poster that included the final score against Auburn.

“Coach Saban does not want to do that,” Sims said about the different approach this time, as Alabama has essentially been in postseason mode since losing at Ole Miss in early October. It won at LSU and then knocked off Mississippi State when it was No. 1, but even with a win the Crimson Tide will still have to face Georgia or Missouri in Atlanta next week.

“He keeps reminding us and reminding us to stay to the future. Stay to the future and don’t worry about the past and if you do have a thought, just think about the film we had on the bus.”

Incidentally, Alabama absolutely crushed Auburn, not only 42-14 in 2011, but also 49-0 in 2012, as both of those Crimson Tide teams were on a mission.

We’ll find out Saturday (7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN) if this one is as well because even though it’ll be No. 1 vs. No. 14 on paper, we all know what that’ll mean come kickoff when Alabama can stop pretending that it’s just another game.