What you want to have in your back pocket are enough relevant examples, so that each time you encounter something novel, you can see it as like something else.An example may be like another example, or exemplary of a theoretical model. So, in general, you know some general theory, and you know a range of examples and models, and you try to find a fit between what you are confronted with and your explanatory methods and your analogous situations.
What's crucial is that nothing is unique, unheard of, new, etc. That does not mean there is no novelty, no inventions, no creativity, etc. Rather, whatever it is, it is like something else.
[In physics, the story of electricity and magnetism, due to Maxwell, is the model for theories of the nuclear and weak forces, and gravity too. In physics the account of the empty universe is the same as the account given of a crystalline lattice.]
You may not realize just what is the analogy, and just how something is analogous to something else, but eventually you figure it out.