Chelsea are among the favourites to progress from the all-Premier League Carling Cup quarter-finals this week, helped by the absence of seven-time winners Liverpool.
The Reds have a better record than any other club in this competition but a tough fourth round draw, away at Arsenal, combined with a weak team selection saw Rafael Benitez's side crash out 2-1 last month.
Their departure barely weakens the tournament though, with the top-six Premier League clubs still competing, along with Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers.
That line-up is a distance from last season, when Burnley and Derby County provided a challenge from the Championship, losing only at the semi-final stage. Their conquerors, Spurs and eventual winners Manchester United, provide the match of the round on Tuesday night.
Harry Redknapp's Tottenham team only lost on penalties in last season's final, after having had the best of the chances in regular time, but the club must be starting to see the Red Devils as something of a bogey team.
It's been 20 matches and almost nine years since their last win over Sir Alex Ferguson's side, although this could be the best opportunity the team have had since then.
Spurs have rarely been in such a lofty position in the Premier League going into a clash with the reigning League champions, while they are likely to face a severely weakened United side.
Most of the starting eleven that lost to Besiktas in the Champions League last week are likely to be given a second chance, including the likes of Rafael, Darron Gibson, Gabriel Obertan, Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda - all inexperienced in the top-flight.
Spurs meanwhile were at almost full-strength for the last round, when they comfortably beat Everton 2-0, and are likely to be even stronger on Tuesday despite having had just three days' rest since playing Aston Villa in the league on Saturday evening.
Manchester City host Arsenal in the other top-six clash and the Lancashire club are likely to flex their squad muscles and give players such as Nedum Onuoha, Michael Johnson, Sylvinho and Benjani a game - all Premier League level players but low down in the lengthy pecking order at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Sandwiched between those two ties, Aston Villa travel to Portsmouth, where new boss Avram Grant will be masterminding his first cup game as manager, while Blackburn host the sportsbook favourites to win the competition, Chelsea, in what looks like another one-sided match.