Air filter on 2004 Subaru Outback

I just spent 30 minutes changing the air filter on my Subaru. I followed the directions and got the filter out easily enough, but putting the housing assembly back in was a real challenge. Is there a secret to getting the four tabs on the bottom back into there respective slots? I had to use a great deal of force and an extra set of hands to squeeze the new filter and housing together again. There doesn’t seem to be enough room between the back of the housing and the firewall to put the tabs in first and then the air filter. I tried every combination I could think of to try to make it work without forcing it. Any suggestions out there. Thanks.