Pompey and Sunderland both fell just short in their quest to reach the Championship last season.
But ahead of their Fratton Park meeting this weekend, the sides are looking well-placed to make another challenge for promotion.
The hosts climbed into the top six with a win at Lincoln on Tuesday evening, only to be knocked out again when Sunderland beat Tranmere a day later.
And with automatic promotion still very much on the cards in a tight division, Kenny Jackett is looking forward to Saturday’s clash between a couple of in-form sides.
The Blues boss said: “The two clubs have got here in different directions – Sunderland came down from the Premier League and Championship, while we had four years in League Two.
“We hope that we’re building up, but it makes it a great game – just like the ones we had against them last season.
"They’re all going to be important games because it’s so tight, but facing Sunderland is big at any stage of the season."
“Both sides are looking to do well and are among some very good teams at the top of the League One table.
“They’re all going to be important games because it’s so tight, but facing Sunderland is big at any stage of the season.
“We’ve played eight matches in January – winning seven of them and drawing one. There are another eight scheduled for February, so we’re looking to keep performing how we have been.
“The top two is open for a number of teams when you look at the points total, so we’re looking forward and trying to maintain our recent form.
“We have to make sure we get our consistency and organisation right to take the opportunity that is there for us.”
Christian Burgess will make his 200th competitive appearance in a Pompey shirt if he takes to the pitch against the Black Cats.
Jackett said: “To stay at one club for that length of time is quite unusual these days because players tend to move around more.
“He’s been on a journey here from League Two to League One and hopefully beyond. He’s enjoyed a consistent season.
“I’ve picked him on a regular basis and he has formed a pretty good partnership with Sean Raggett at the back.”