Manchester City have made winning the Carabao Cup a habit in recent years and most would expect that to continue as they head into yet another final.
Few who watched the holders swat aside their Wembley opponents Chelsea 6-0 in a Premier League match earlier this month could anticipate any other outcome.
Not only were City, managed by the ultra-demanding Pep Guardiola, at their dazzling best but Chelsea’s season, already starting to unravel, was apparently accelerating towards crisis.
It would certainly be some achievement for Maurizio Sarri to turn things around from there and deny City a fourth League Cup success in six years.
Adding to the scale of the task facing the Londoners – who also went out of the FA Cup in the past week – is the fact Guardiola has made clear he is taking the competition extremely seriously.
The Spaniard is fully aware of where the country’s second domestic knockout competition sits in the grand scheme of things, but his hunger for silverware is insatiable.
He readily counts Community Shields and Super Cups among his successes – taking his trophy tally in a decade of management at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City to 24 – and he clearly wants more.
Combining this with a desire to further enhance the honours board of a club where winning prizes remains a relatively novel experience, quadruple-chasing City, with their formidable squad, will take some stopping.
League One Burton experienced at first hand the crushing power of the City juggernaut as they were thrashed 9-0 in the first leg of their semi-final and Chelsea, after their recent Etihad Stadium mauling, need no reminder.
Guardiola said: “I know it’s a competition, with all respect, that when you win and you are in the final you are so happy – but when you’re out you’re not sad.
“But once we are there we take every game seriously. We are in the final and we are, of course, going to try to win it.
“We have already won one title this season, the Community Shield, and I think we have shown that every game is important.”
For Sarri, the game could be his only opportunity to secure a tangible legacy from his Chelsea tenure.
Given the churn of managers at Stamford Bridge, it was always unlikely the veteran Italian’s appointment would be a long-term one but recent results have suggested the parting of the ways could come even sooner than expected.
With top-four hopes in the balance, success in this competition would not offer much security but it might earn him the right to see out the Premier League and Europa League campaigns. His future could then come down to whether he secures a coveted Champions League place.
In isolation, a first major trophy on Sarri’s record would not go amiss and might even serve him well in the future, but he is going to have to upset the odds to deliver it. But should things go badly wrong at Wembley, the end could be swift.