Remember back in 2014 when the USA set up an instantly mockable Task Force in the wake of yet another Ryder Cup defeat?

Calling on just about everything from past players, past captains, past Presidents, songs from the Old West and the ghost of John Wayne, this new, all-embracing approach was going to transform US fortunes in the biennial bout. Instead of disaccord and disarray, there was grinning talk of unity and cheery cohesion.

There was initial success with Team USA winning the trophy back at Hazeltine in 2016. And then came Paris in 2018 and a French farce which led to the American egos landing, another sombre defeat and yet more public bickering and dirty linen washing.

As for Europe? Well, they just ploughed on with the kind of peaceful harmony that John Lennon would sing about to take their recent record to nine wins in the last 12 Ryder Cup contests.

“Team spirit,” declared the talismanic Ian Poulter of this mighty weapon in the European armoury that can’t simply be forged on the anvil of a Task Force.

Ahead of next weekend’s 43rd instalment of golf’s great transatlantic tussle at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Steve Stricker, the captain of the USA, made a fairly obvious statement.

"I feel like on paper, from head to toe, the world ranking, I would say we're a stronger team," he said. And he is right. The hosts have eight of the world’s top-10 in their midst in a side that features six rookies. With an average age of 29, it is the youngest American team ever assembled.

As well all know, of course, Ryder Cups are not won on thin sheets of pulp-based material.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s a good side,” said Sergio Garcia of the 12 American men the Spaniard and his European colleagues will be parrying and jousting with. “Most of the time, we are underdogs, and it's the right thing because on paper they are a little bit stronger than we are.

“But we have a lot of heart. We have a lot of great feeling between us and that's something that is difficult to put on paper. I expect us to bond like we always do.”

Garcia made his debut in the Ryder Cup at boisterous Brookline back in 1999 and since then has gone on to become Europe’s all-time leading points scorer with a mighty haul of 25 ½ points.

In 2018, when he missed the cut in all four majors and had endured a fairly hum-drum season, he justified his wild card selection by rising to the occasion and contributing three points to the European cause. 

The Ryder Cup fuels his competitive fires like nothing else. “You can probably see some flames coming out of my ears,” he said with a smile. The collective sense of accomplishment, meanwhile, gives him great fulfilment.

“Being the highest points-scorer in Ryder Cup history, that was never my goal,” said Garcia who has been on six winning European teams. “It’s something that I never thought about because I was always focused on winning the Ryder Cup as a team. I never thought, ‘Oh, even if we lose, if I win 3 or 3 1/2 points, I had a great Ryder Cup.’ No, that doesn’t do it for me.

“I’ve always said I could win five matches. If we don’t win the Ryder Cup, it’s not a good Ryder Cup for me. It’s not the way my brain works and probably is one of the reasons why I’ve been fortunate to be a part of so many teams and do so well in it.”

After the tsunami of US Ryder Cup wins in the days when they competed against a GB&I team, the addition of the wider continent of Europe in 1979 helped turn the tide. The US are still well ahead in the overall series with 26 wins from the 42 matches and Garcia is eager to keep chiselling away at that advantage.

“We're still behind and we still have some catching up to do,” said the former Masters champion. “And that's a goal, to try to tilt the balance in our favour when it comes to the overall score. The last few years shows what we have been able to achieve as a team and this year is no different. For us to have a chance, we need to bond as a team stronger than you can ever imagine.”

In golf at least, the European union is as strong as ever.