Perennial EFL Cup champions Manchester City will continue their quest for an unprecedented fifth straight triumph in the competition when they take on West Ham United in the last 16 at the London Stadium on Wednesday night.
The holders have not been knocked out of the competition since October 2016 - five years ago - but face a West Ham side that claimed the scalp of Manchester United in the last round.
Five years since they last lost a League Cup tie, a record-equalling four trophies in a row and six titles in the last eight seasons - Man City's domination in this tournament over recent years has been quite remarkable.
Another success this year would see them become the first to win it five seasons in a row and would also see them move out on their own as the most successful club in the competition's history, overtaking the current records they share with Liverpool on both fronts.
Liverpool are the only team to have enjoyed a longer unbeaten run in the competition, going 25 ties without being knocked out between 1980 and 1984, but Man City are also closing in on that record and victory on Wednesday would see their streak extend to 22.
Such success belies the perception that the big teams do not take this competition particularly seriously, with Pep Guardiola developing a philosophy within his squad that every piece of silverware is both winnable and desirable.
The visitors go into this last-16 tie on a run of three successive wins across all competitions, scoring 11 goals in that time, including nine in their last two away outings.
Saturday's convincing 4-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, who went into that match sitting in the top four, was another statement win for the Premier League champions, although not quite on the same level as Chelsea's 7-0 triumph over Norwich City or Liverpool's 5-0 mauling of Manchester United.
While the competition for Premier League glory is shaping up to be a three-horse race this season, success in the League Cup has almost been a given in recent seasons and they progressed into the fourth round at a canter last time out.
Five different players were on the scoresheet as a youthful Man City side hit League One Wycombe Wanderers for six, although they can expect to face much sterner opposition in the form of West Ham in midweek.
The Hammers actually benefitted from Man City's weekend win over Brighton as it opened the door for them to climb into the top four - an invitation they made the most of by beating rivals Tottenham Hotspur courtesy of Michail Antonio's opportunistic strike.
That result made it three wins and three clean sheets in a row across all competitions, and six wins from their last seven - a run which stretches back to their 1-0 triumph over Man United in the previous round.
Arsenal in 1977-78 are the only team to have eliminated both Manchester clubs in the same League Cup campaign before, and should West Ham join that very short list then they would make it into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2017-18.
David Moyes's men have so far made light work of their busy schedule this season, posting a perfect Europa League record in addition to their top-four Premier League spot, so another game in quick succession will not faze them on Wednesday.
However, while they have won more often than not in front of their own fans so far in 2021-22, their two defeats this season have also come at the London Stadium, and their record in matches against Manchester City does not bode well.
The Hammers are winless in their last 12 meetings with Guardiola's men, losing 10 of those and conceding 35 goals in the process, while they have not won at home to Wednesday's opponents for more than seven years.
Their two previous League Cup ties with Man City have also ended in defeat - including a 9-0 aggregate loss in the 2013-14 semi-finals - although they have won two of their last three League Cup ties against the reigning holders of the trophy.
This West Ham side is one which has far more belief than any of their recent predecessors too, and with Moyes recently setting his sights on a top-four finish, Wednesday could give him the opportunity to prove that they belong in the conversation.
Raheem Sterling missed out at the weekend due to lower back pain and, while there is some hope he may recover in time for Wednesday, Guardiola is unlikely to take any unnecessary risks over the attacker.
Delap may have been in line for an appearance in this game had he been fit, but there are still likely to be opportunities for a number of youngsters to show what they can do, including Cole Palmer, who netted his first Champions League goal for the club last week.
An unfamiliar back four of Conrad Egan-Riley, Finley Burns, Luke Mbete-Tabu and Josh Wilson-Esbrand started against Wycombe in the last round and, while Guardiola may opt for some more experience given the higher calibre opposition, some of those young players could still get a chance.
Phil Foden may be rested after his brace against Brighton, although he has been directly involved in nine goals from his last seven starts in this competition.
Moyes could name a similar team to the one that dispatched of Man United in the last round, which would see Antonio rested, Jarrod Bowen lead the line and the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini return to the starting XI.
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Areola; Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Johnson; Rice, Noble; Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Masuaku; Bowen
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Steffen; Egan-Riley, Stones, Ake, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Palmer; Mahrez, Jesus, Grealish
We say: West Ham United 1-2 Manchester City
West Ham have what it takes to end what is sure to be a weakened Man City's dominance in this competition, and a home win on Wednesday would not be a massive surprise if Guardiola does indeed ring the changes.
However, it is difficult to back against Man City in the EFL Cup given their record in recent years, and even a second-string side have enough quality throughout to see off Premier League opposition.
It could be a close one, and could even go to extra time, but when all is said and done we expect Man City's run in the League Cup to still be intact.
body check tags ::
Previews by email