EFL Cup - Yorkshire's three remaining candidates hit the Wembley trail again ...
AND then there were three.
After the almost total wipeout of round one of the newly-named EFL Cup, when seven (yes, SEVEN) Yorkshire sides bit the dust, the baton is now firmly in the hands of Leeds United, Hull City and Middlesbrough - while South Yorkshire interest is already over.
Not that the away-day trips handed to the aforementioned trio will have been greeted with much pleasure. An away tie at rejuvenated Luton is the very essence of a banana-skin tie for Leeds, while a trip to the capital to face Fulham is hardly the most alluring prospect for Boro.
And as for Hull City’s epic excursion to Exeter City; they probably needed that like a hole in the head.
But that is the way that the cards have been dealt.
Here are a number of EFL Cup pointers ...
1: Leeds United. The momentum rule for Monk
The smart money is on changes for Leeds at Kenilworth Road tonight. But maybe not too many, with momentum, a precious and valuable cargo in football, needing to be further built after the encouraging weekend win at Sheffield Wednesday.
For Leeds, the game is all about attitude and competence. They showed desire, will, energy and bite at Hillsborough and must do the same at Luton and give the Hatters all due respect.
They were excellent and full value for their 3-1 shock round one win over Aston Villa and have started the league season well and dues must be paid.
2: Hull City. Time for some of the kids
A near 600-mile round trip to Devon for a midweek cup fixture. Just what the doctor ordered, eh?
Not exactly, with Mike Phelan forgiven for thinking about the priority business of the weekend home game with Manchester United and avoiding any uneccessary injuries to a seriously-diminished squad.
Given his scant resources, the bulk of Hull’s first-team squad will be present at St James’ Park, needs must.
But expect a fair few of the kids, several of whom have been on the bench in the club’s opening two top-flight appointments, to be blooded.
Youngsters Josh Tymon, Jarrod Bowen, Greg Luer, Greg Olley and Josh Clackstone, who have all been unused substitutes in Hull’s two league outings, are likely to get the nod. Big night for them.
3: Rotation, rotation, rotation for Middlesbrough
While Boro aren’t back in league action until Sunday at West Brom, Aitor Karanka will know which side his bread is buttered and a host of squad players are likely to get a chance at Craven Cottage.
Expect Viktor Fischer, a £3.8m summer signing from Ajax, to start alongside the likes of Julien de Sart and David Nugent, while Dimi Konstantopoulos, Alex Baptiste, Jordan Rhodes and Adam Reach are in need of game time.
It could be a big moment for Baptiste, yet to make his competitive bow for Boro since joining in the summer of 2015.
And another thing ... how about a regionalised draw?
In practical terms, this would probably prove difficult. But there are some decidedly ropey long-distance ties to negotiate for a number of clubs. Leeds, Hull and Boro all make fairly sizeable trips south, with the Tigers’ trip taking the biscuit.
Not to mention some of the other ties. Crystal Palace v Blackpool, Peterborough v Swansea, Scunthorpe v Bristol City, Morecambe v Bournemouth. Fans of those clubs will not exactly be salivating at the prospect of those match-ups.
A regionalised element for the opening two rounds might be the way forward.
And let’s face it, at the end of the day, there is still a carrot for the second-round victors.
The top-flight contingent competing in Europe will be added in the third-round draw late on Wednesday. They include Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs and Leicester. And West Ham, with many groundhoppers no doubt keen to tick off the Olympic Stadium. Others such as Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea could also be floating around.