Manchester City head into the EFL Cup fourth-round encounter with Fulham looking to further extend their unbeaten run on the domestic scene this season, as well as attempting to move closer to defending the trophy that they won during the last campaign.
Fulham make the trip to the Etihad Stadium having conceded 15 goals in their last four top-flight fixtures, and head coach Slavisa Jokanovic will be aware that his side must show signs of improvement in the North-West.
There is little doubting that Pep Guardiola's priorities lie elsewhere during the current campaign, with City attempting to retain the Premier League title and improve on their last-eight exit in the Champions League last season.
However, the Spaniard will still regard this competition as the perfect opportunity to sharpen the match fitness of any player out of the reckoning and further develop some of the club's youth talent.
Four players under the age of 20 made an appearance in the 3-0 victory over Oxford United in the previous round, and although Guardiola may opt against naming such a young team for a game against a fellow Premier League side, Phil Foden is almost certain to make another start.
The 18-year-old has been restricted to just 50 minutes in the top flight and Champions League, but the teenager was hugely impressive in the fixture at the League One outfit in September and beginning a game against Fulham will represent another step up.
Brahim Diaz will also hope to feature at a time when the playmaker is barely seen in the league, but Guardiola will perhaps take more from being able to give Kevin De Bruyne more minutes on the pitch after his recovery from a knee injury.
Guardiola was cautious regarding the number of minutes given to the Belgian on a below-par Wembley pitch as City beat Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night, but expect the midfielder to play at least an hour on Thursday evening.
City have barely missed their star man with 12 wins and two draws coming from 15 games in all competitions this season, but it is another boost for Guardiola who is beginning to witness his team move closer to the standard that they produced on a regular basis during the last campaign.
Guardiola will also want to preserve their formidable record at the back, with just one goal being conceded in their last eight outings.
Recent form: W
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWWW
Fulham were being tipped as having the potential to finish in the top 10 of the Premier League table in the days leading up to the new campaign having shelled out over £100m on 12 first-team signings.
A run in a cup competition was supposed to be regarded as an added bonus at an exciting time for the football club, but the large outlay in the transfer market has - so far - backfired and alarm bells are beginning to ring at Craven Cottage.
Jokanovic has watched on helplessly as his side have shipped goals at a frequent rate, and a daunting trip to City is unlikely to help the Serbian galvanise a defence which is playing with little confidence.
The warning signs were there when Fulham struggled to contain Watford in front of their own supporters during the middle of September, and four capitulations have since occurred in a short space of time.
Monday's fixture away at Huddersfield Town has developed into a hugely important game for both the club and Jokanovic - who will be aware that more defeats could lead to his departure - and the match with City will effectively be viewed as an unwanted distraction.
Jokanovic has already used 22 members of his squad in the Premier League, and it is unlikely that any players guaranteed to start at the John Smith's Stadium will be considered on Thursday.
Whether that proves to be beneficial or detrimental to Jokanovic remains to be seen because while his players will appreciate that a strong showing at City could change their season, they will also be aware that a heavy defeat could further hit their hopes of a resurgence.
Fulham allowed City to have 28 attempts on goal in the same fixture in the league less than two months ago, and the West Londoners will need to find a way to nullify the threat of their hosts in front of goal to have any chance of a surprise result.
Recent form: W
Recent form (all competitions): DWLLLL
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Muric; Stones, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, De Bruyne; Diaz, Foden, Sane; Jesus
Fulham possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Christie, Chambers, Mawson, Le Marchand; Zambo Anguissa, Cairney, Johansen; Ayite, Kamara, Vietto
Head To Head
Thursday's meeting will represent the 65th competitive clash between the two clubs, with City having recorded 31 wins in comparison to 17 victories for Fulham.
However, Fulham have gone 12 matches without beating City, with their last success coming in a Premier League contest in April 2009.
City have since won nine times and recorded three draws, including a 3-0 triumph in the top flight as recently as September.
We say: Manchester City 4-0 Fulham
City will rest many of the players which featured at Wembley Stadium on Monday, but it should not prevent them from recording an emphatic victory. Jokanovic's focus will be on Monday's meeting at Huddersfield Town, and the Cottagers are unlikely to make any impact at the Etihad Stadium.