The Black Cats are fresh off the back of a 3-0 Tyne-Wear derby victory and their only defeat in their last eight matches was a Capital One Cup second-leg loss to Manchester United inside 90 minutes, after which they won the penalty shootout to secure a date at Wembley.
This upturn in fortunes under Gus Poyet has seen Sunderland climb off the bottom of the table and to within three points of the top half, but Hull have been moving alarmingly in the opposite direction.
A run of only one win in their last 10 games has cancelled out much of the good work done by Bruce and company in the opening months of the season, and they are now only two points clear of safety.
A first Tigers goal from Shane Long helped them halt a four-match losing run against Tottenham Hotspur, and Hull will be looking to him and fellow January arrival Nikica Jelavic to fire them away from trouble.
Bruce's new-look forward partnership should line up against Sunderland, where he was manager for two years, and Spurs loanee Jake Livermore is also available after missing the clash with his parent club.
Robbie Brady, who is Hull's leading top-flight goalscorer with three goals, may drop out as he continues to struggle with injury niggles. James Chester (hamstring) and Sone Aluko (calf) are both ruled out. Allan McGregor serves the second match of a three-game ban, so Steve Harper will again deputise in goal.
Poyet may name an unchanged starting XI from the one that secured a Premier League double over Newcastle, with Liam Bridcutt maintaining his place in midfield following an impressive debut outing.
Steven Fletcher's calf injury will prevent him from featuring and so Jozy Altidore and Fabio Borini will be retained in attack. Lee Cattermole, Carlos Cuellar and Keiren Westwood join Fletcher on the sidelines.
Possible starting lineups
Sunderland: Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso; Johnson, Bridcutt, Ki, Colback; Altidore, Borini
Hull: Harper; Elmohamady, Davies, McShane, Figueroa, Rosenior; Huddlestone, Livermore, Meyler; Long, Jelavic
Sports Mole says: 2-0