Colorado edged Columbus last season, advancing on penalty kicks following a 2-2 aggregate score in the two-legged affair.
But this go-around, it's different. Thursday's clash is a single game to get into the conference semifinals. And with Colorado (49 points) finishing the regular season ahead of Columbus (47 points), the Rapids will have home field advantage for the crucial match.
"It's a one-off," Rapids defender Drew Moor said. "The winner moves on, loser goes home. Anything can happen in games like that. ... We need to take advantage of our home field."
With Mother Nature laying a fresh coat of snow over the pitch at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, home field advantage could prove to pivotal.
A win for Colorado on Thursday would see the Rapids play at home again on Sunday, and according to defender Kosuke Kimura, playing on one's own turf in quick succession makes things easier on a team that has such a congested schedule down the stretch.
"We've had so many games in CONCACAF [Champions League] and our schedule has been so hectic the last two or three months, but this is just one game," Kimura told MLSsoccer.com. "It will be bad weather, but we just need the right mental set and we'll just have to do it from minute one."
Jeff Larentowicz is proving to be a key player for Colorado this year. With Conor Casey missing much of the season with a torn Achilles and Omar Cummings only finding the net three times in 18 starts, Larentowicz scored in the club's regular season finale to lead the Rapids with seven goals.
"There's no doubt the forwards have been going through a bit of a sticky patch and, when that happens, you have to find the goals from somewhere else," Rapids head coach Gary Smith said. "Once again, Jeff scored a very important goal."
Columbus, meanwhile, slipped out of a top-three spot in the Eastern Conference in its final game of the regular season, falling to the Chicago Fire 3-2.
A major question mark hanging over the Crew is the lineup that head coach Robert Warzycha will send out to begin the match.
"All year I'm trying to find the right combination," Warzycha said, specifically speaking of his center midfield pairing. "We saw a little bit of what Danny [O'Rourke] and [Emmanuel Ekpo] could do when they played together at New England. That was the combination I was looking for all season but obviously we can't have it now."
Ekpo picked up a late red card against Chicago, earning himself a suspension for Thursday's clash and undoubtedly giving Warzycha an additional headache over team selection.
Warzycha seemed impressed with one midfield combination that played during the loss to Chicago. Robbie Rogers entered the match to occupy a wide position, pushing Dilly Duka into a central role to partner Ekpo, while Eddie Gaven provided balance opposite Rogers on the flank.
"He was a link in the middle," Warzycha said of Duka. "That was a good move by us to bring him inside and have more touches because in the first 30 minutes I don't think he saw the ball enough."
When Colorado first hosted Columbus this season back in August, the Rapids earned a 2-0 win over the Crew with goals coming from Brian Mullan and Omar Cummings.
For the sake of its season, Columbus will be hopeful of reversing that result on Thursday.