Still without a trophy since 1995, Everton begin their 22nd season in search of silverware with an EFL Cup (former League Cup/Worthington Cup/Carling Cup/Capital One Cup) second round tie against League Two side Yeovil at Goodison Park.
The League Cup has never historically been a happy competition for Everton. The Toffees have never won it but finished runners-up twice – in 1977 and 1984 –and reached the semi-final on just three other occasions, including last season’s defeat by Manchester City.
The majority of Everton’s experience in the competition has been one of abject disappointment and humiliation.
Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992 Everton have only made it beyond the fourth round twice, reaching the semi-finals on both occasions in 2008 and 2015.
For eight years between 1994 and 2002 Everton went out of the League Cup at the first hurdle six times.
Millwall, Oxford Utd, York City, Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers; ghosts of League Cup past that send shivers down the spines of Evertonians everywhere.
Thankfully Everton haven’t ducked out of the League Cup in the second round since 2002 and have progressed from 15 of their last 17 ties in the competition against lower league opposition. But abject third round defeats to Leeds, Fulham and Swansea in recent years serve as timely reminders as to the pitfalls ahead.
The hope, of course, is that this new shiny, revamped Everton under Ronald Koeman will approach the competition with much more confidence and belief.
Saturday’s victory at West Brom, and Koeman’s pivotial role in turning the game into our favour, has only added to the excitement and optimism about this new era.
Ending the club’s long and painful trophy drought is certainly high on Koeman’s priority list, so I expect the Dutchman to give the competition and the opposition the respect they deserve.
Yeovil have the spent the majority of their 121-year history in non-league football but were finally promoted to the Football League for the first time in 2003.
They spent just two seasons in League Two before earning promotion to League One, where they have spent most of their time in the Football League.
In 2013 the Glovers won the League One play-off final to clinch promotion to the Championship for the first time. Sadly it has been nothing but struggle since then.
Yeovil suffered back-to-back relegations, finishing bottom on each occasion, and only narrowly avoided the drop from League Two last season thanks to a late surge under manager Darren Way.
They are the only team in Somerset, south west England, to play in the Football League and have developed a fine reputation for punching above their weight given they have one of the smallest budgets in the division.
They survive by recruiting players released by other clubs as well as loaning talented youngsters.
Everton have close links with Yeovil in that regard, sending Shane Duffy, John Lundstram and Liam Walsh on loan in recent seasons. Though Tuesday’s game at Goodison Park will be the first competitive meeting between the two sides.
Yeovil began the season with victory over Notts County in the league before defeating Walsall to reach this stage of the EFL Cup.
However, two defeats and a draw have followed that leaves the club 16th in the early League Two table.
Ronald Koeman has already stated his desire to resist naming a dramatically weakened team for this fixture.
New signings Ashley Williams and Yannick Bolasie are set to make their first starts after coming off the bench at West Brom on Saturday. Romelu Lukaku may also start as he builds up his fitness after recovering from a heel injury.
Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell may also get a run-out, though their participation in an U23 game on Monday suggests they will not start.
This should be a comfortable evening for Everton if they approach it in the right manner.
Thankfully Koeman seems like the type of guy who doesn’t suffer fools gladly so I doubt the players would dare not give their all in this game.
If that proves the case then they should have enough quality to ease through to the next round.
Predicted Everton XI: Stekelenberg, Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori, Oviedo, McCarthy, Gueye, Barkley, Bolasie, Lennon, Lukaku.