Back in 2005, the USS Ronal Reagan was outsmarted by a single diesel-powered Swedish submarine. This happened during the war games when the Swedish submarine managed to sneak past the sonar defenses and was able to score a few torpedo hits (virtually) and was able to sink the cruiser and got away without a scratch.
All of this was made possible by an old engine. Rather than using diesel to power an internal combustion engine, which is quite loud, the Gotland-class sub uses highly-optimized Sterling engines. These engines are exceedingly quiet and are used to charge the batteries, which can then directly run the engines. This results in a submarine that is quieter than all other diesel submarines. It is even quieter than nuclear submarines which require a constant churn of the coolant that can give away the position.
The virtual defeat was concerning for the US Navy and they leased a Gotland-class sub from Sweden in order to figure out how to develop a counter for that stealth. This shows that moving forward in engineering does not always mean new technology. You can take a look back and improve on something that was invented a long time ago. Taking a look back can result in a leap forward.
You can check it out in the video below: