Sunderland and Manchester United have the chance to put their respective troubles to one side on Tuesday by closing in on a Wembley final.
Both clubs have fallen some way short of expectations in the Premier League so far this season, with Sunderland languishing at the foot of the table and United 11 points behind leaders Arsenal in seventh.
United were also dumped out of the FA Cup on Sunday as Swansea City claimed a shock 2-1 win at Old Trafford to pile further pressure on David Moyes.
However, both United manager Moyes and Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet will know a trophy is well within reach when their teams meet at the Stadium of Light for the first leg of a League Cup semi-final.
Sunderland have already sprung one major surprise in this season's League Cup, knocking out Chelsea at the last-eight stage courtesy of Ki Sung-Yueng's extra-time winner.
In contrast to United, Poyet's men also tasted success in the FA Cup at the weekend, beating League One side Carlisle United 3-1 to reach the fourth round.
Although Sunderland will have significant concerns over their own Premier League position, it is United who will surely go into Tuesday’s match under the greatest pressure.
In his first season since taking over from the legendary Alex Ferguson, Moyes has overseen five home defeats and will be eager to head back to Old Trafford for the second leg against Sunderland with a lead.
United, who ran out 2-0 winners at Stoke City in the previous round, have lifted the League Cup on four occasions, with three of their triumphs coming in the last eight seasons.
Sunderland's only final appearance came in 1985, when an own goal from Gordon Chisholm enabled Norwich City to claim a 1-0 victory at Wembley.
Moyes will have to cope without Fabio after the defender picked up a straight red card in the defeat to Swansea.
Fabio's dismissal came just four minutes after he had been introduced as a replacement for Rio Ferdinand, who appeared to suffer a knee injury.
United were without strikers Robin van Persie (thigh) and Wayne Rooney (groin) against Swansea and both appear likely to be unavailable at Sunderland.
Sunderland are without goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (shoulder) and defender Carlos Cuellar (thigh), while captain John O'Shea, who spent more than 10 years with United, has been troubled by a persistent shoulder problem in recent weeks.
The two teams last met in the League Cup 13 seasons ago, with Sunderland winning a fourth-round tie 2-1 after extra-time at home.
|Corinthians dreaming of Drogba - Paulo Roberto|
|Coutinho calls for Liverpool focus|
|Chiellini compares Pogba to LeBron and Bolt|
|Maradona to become Napoli ambassador|
|Mihajlovic furious after Torino collapse|
|Icardi has offers from China - Wanda Nara|
|Pogba can cope with pressure - Ibrahimovic|
|´My half-time words will stay in the dressing room´ - Montella annoyed with AC Milan|
|Juventus unveil dramatic change to club logo - but not everyone´s a fan|
|´I do not think I will return to coaching´ - Van Gaal set to call it quits|
|Torino 2 AC Milan 2: Bacca caps thrilling comeback as hosts pay the penalty|
|DR Congo 1 Morocco 0: Kabananga pounces on blunder to give 10 men the points|
|´Happy and comfortable´ Sanchez dismisses Arsenal exit talk|
|How much?! West Ham flop Simone Zaza could cost Valencia €20m|
|Mali v Egypt: Salah leads Pharaohs´ bid for AFCON glory|
|Sevilla concede they ´cannot force´ sporting director Monchi to stay|
|Ivory Coast 0 Togo 0: Reigning champions held to opening draw by Adebayor and co.|
|Goalkeeping woes, Stones and tactical confusion - How Guardiola is making life difficult for himself|
|Ozil and Sanchez can be persuaded to stay - Cech|
|Pogba: I rejected Barcelona and Real Madrid|
|Ghana v Uganda: Gyan dreams of first trophy since 1982|
|Chiellini: Juventus a work in progress|
|Robben agrees Bayern renewal until 2018|
|Hazard: Goals do not matter to me|
|Bennell pleads not guilty to eight child sex offences|
|Muller fed up with debate over Bayern role|
|Wenger glad Sanchez is not ´a Costa problem´|
|Flick resigns as DFB´s sporting director|
|Gomis ´can´t wait´ to welcome Payet to Marseille|
|Chinese FA changes foreign player rules after ´irrational´ spending|
|Like father, like son: Justin Kluivert follows in dad´s footsteps|
|´No reason to lose him´ - Marotta rubbishes talk of Allegri exit|
|Courtois: We don´t need Costa|
|Kane: Tottenham players won´t go to China|
|Noble ´angry and disappointed´ with Payet|
|Klopp furious over Matip uncertainty|
|Wenger surprised by tight Premier League|
|´Money is not everything´ - Conte issues warning amid China speculation|
|Fiorentina defeat a ´bad setback´ - Allegri|
|´This will elevate this group of players´ - Sampaoli revels in Sevilla late show|
|WATCH: Rio Ferdinand screams and dances in crazy Man Utd celebration|
|Real Madrid relaxed, admits Zidane after Sevilla defeat|
|Monaco go top of Ligue 1 with stunning Marseille victory|
|Ronaldo equals LaLiga penalty record as Real Madrid lose|
|Sevilla 2 Real Madrid 1: Stunning late comeback ends unbeaten run at 40|
|Fiorentina 2 Juventus 1: Brilliant Viola breathe life into Serie A title race|
|Tunisia 0 Senegal 2: Mane on target as favourites start strongly|
|Mourinho explains Klopp confrontation|
|Klopp delights in Alexander-Arnold display|
|Algeria must cut out mistakes against Tunisia - Leekens|
|Long balls led to Man Utd equaliser, says Klopp|
|´We attacked, Liverpool defended´ – Mourinho insists a point flattered Klopp´s men|
|DR Congo v Morocco: ´Confidence´ the Atlas Lions´ biggest hindrance ahead of AFCON opener|
|Ibrahimovic: Direct tactics worked for United|
|Guardiola rues gap to Chelsea after Goodison mauling|
|Algeria 2 Zimbabwe 2: Mahrez double prevents shock defeat|
|Manchester United 1 Liverpool 1: In-form Ibrahimovic saves hosts|
|Ivory Coast v Togo: AFCON champions hope to tame Le Roy´s ´troublemakers´|
|Guardiola lays City´s mental frailties bare after Goodison rout|
|Koeman hails ´perfect´ Everton after City mauling|
|Nice stalemate gives Monaco chance to go top|
|Guardiola suffers heaviest league loss in Everton thrashing|
|Neymar-esque Zaha is England´s loss – Bolasie|
|Everton 4 Manchester City 0: Koeman leaves old pal Guardiola´s title bid in tatters|
|Matip withdrawn from Liverpool selection over eligibility questions|
|Podolski staying at Galatasaray, insists sporting director|
|Cavani wants PSG stay|
|Torino move feels normal now – Hart|
|Chinese FA changes rule on CSL foreign players - reports|
|Bayern complete swoop for Hoffenheim duo Sule and Rudy|
|Aubameyang: Dortmund not really like Barca, Madrid or Bayern|
|Pogba can chance a game in one second - Herrera|
|Newcastle Jets 2 Perth Glory 2: Keogh´s eighth of season seals draw|
|Klopp: Liverpool ready for Old Trafford test|
|Herrera taunts Liverpool ahead of Old Trafford showdown|
|I had to be 100 per cent to stay at Boca - Tevez|
|No player is bigger than the club - Carroll takes swipe at want-away Payet|
|Icardi: I can always move to China at end of career|
|Mkhitaryan: Klopp convinced me not to join Liverpool|
|Mourinho: Pogba can score every game|
|Cameroon´s profligacy frustrates Broos|