It might not be the most prestigious cup in the world, nor the trophy that the Manchester City fans crave, but the League Cup could prove to be the boost Manuel Pellegrini's side needs.
City take on Everton at Goodison Park in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final on January 6.
The League Cup is usually the competition that most teams cast aside. It is hardly the most reputable tournament and the winnings total £100,000. That's less than half what Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero earn in a week.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
Article continues below
However, the two-legged tie against Everton could prove to be two of Manuel Pellegrini's most important matches of the season.
When Jose Mourinho came to England during his first spell at Chelsea, he immediately identified the League Cup as an important competition. He recognised that winning - no matter who you're playing or what tournament it is in - breeds confidence in your team.
Article continues below
Mourinho's side went onto win the title that season, and Pellegrini completed the same domestic double in his first season in charge. Coincidence? I think not.
The competition lays down an early marker. Your team suddenly becomes the team to watch. Sure, no one really remember who wins the League Cup from year to year, but for that one season, your rivals know you mean business.
If you win a match, players have the belief they are at the club where they should be, it's almost as if they truly believe they are good enough. If a new signing scores a goal at a new club, they take that self-belief into the next Premier League game.
Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling both scored against Sunderland in the third round, and those strikes almost certainly gave them a morale boost. The duo have gone onto score 20 goals and achieve 20 assists combined between them this campaign.
If you go out of the competition early and don't score, and then go a few games without scoring, the media will start writing negative headlines, branding you as a waste of money.
If you lose to a Bradford, a Carlisle or an Exeter, sure people will forget about it in 12 months time, and the big teams are unlikely to have played a strong side anyway, but the players won't forget about it in the games to come. The media won't let them.
Seeing 'Huge Upset' and 'City Crash Out' in the papers the next morning will be embarrassing for some players and their confidence will take a hit. You don't want your players low on self-belief going into an important match the next week.
Return of star players
If the Citizens go onto win the Capital One Cup, Vincent Kompany should have returned from injury at a similar time.
The team will be full of confidence and this means there won't be any rush to get the Belgian into the side. Pellegrini can ease him in and save their talisman for the crucial few months of the season.
City haven't lost a game this season in which Kompany has played. He is regarded as one of, if not the best centre back in the world on his day. To have him back at a crucial period, that could be the catalyst for Pellegrini to go on and win the title.
Sergio Aguero would also likely be at full fitness around the time of the League Cup final on February 28 as he continues his return from niggling injuries. The firepower these two give the City side, could be enough to take them to the title.
Confidence for Champions League
In amongst the title run-in and the League Cup is the Champions League. A favourable draw on paper against Dynamo Kyiv is just what City needed to put their stamp on the competition.
The belief the team could get from winning the League Cup, could be carried into Ukraine and let Pellegrini's side finally impress on Europe's biggest stage.
It looks likely that the Chilean could lose his job at the end of the season, but he could give the owners a very difficult decision to make if he ends up doing the double.
A win over Everton in the semi-final could give a much-needed boost to Pellegrini's side. They are struggling and need to get their title challenge back on track. Winning the Capital One Cup could see Pellegrini repeat his first season heroics.
Should Man City sack Manuel Pellegrini in the summer in favour of Pep Guardiola? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms