NEW ORLEANS — What happened Sunday on the world's stage has been going on between John and Jim Harbaugh for many moons.
Jim, 50, is a little more than a year younger than John. So much of his childhood was devoted to trying to measure up to his big brother.
That's how, in part, Jim ended up running faster, throwing the ball farther, climbing higher.
On so many days, a similar story played out for Jim.
Get knocked down. Get back up.
Take a beating. Come back stronger.
Get shown up. Exact revenge.
Somewhere along the line, two tough kids became two great coaches, but Super Bowl Sunday really was just another chapter out of that childhood.
Johnny gave Jimmy a first-half whooping. And Jimmy fought back like a champion after others had given up. He made it a donnybrook, a full-out donnybrook.
But it ended with John, the head coach of the Ravens, putting Jim, the head coach of the 49ers, in another headlock while Mom and Dad watched somewhat uncomfortably from their seats in the Superdome.
John Harbaugh accomplished his life's mission Sunday. But he prevented his little brother from accomplishing his.
They shared the high points of their careers, then both walked away with pits in their stomach.
The postgame handshake between them was "the hardest thing" John ever experienced and he said beating Jim was "very painful."
Said the big brother, "I told him I loved him."
Said the little brother, "I told him congratulations, and that I was proud of him."
Jim was always the better athlete, and he had the team with the better athletes Sunday. But John, the man Jim says could have been anything he wanted, found a way to prevail.
The Ravens' advantages in experience and age did not go unnoticed.
There was the fumble by 49ers rookie LaMichael James that led to a Ravens touchdown in the second quarter.
There was the overthrow to Randy Moss by second-year 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that was intercepted by cagey veteran Ed Reed.
There was the 49ers' illegal-formation penalty on the opening play from scrimmage that wiped out a 20-yard gain.