Blame the stupendous feats of Bradford City in reaching the Capital One Cup final, beating Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa on the way. The league two club demonstrated that work ethic, ambition and passion still count for something in a football world which has been skewed financially in favour of the big boys since the advent of the premier league.
Every unfashionable club in England will have noted that. So Wigan will go to non-league Macclesfield, ninth in the Blue Square Premier League, knowing that despite the gulf in talent they face one of their toughest scraps of the season.
Cynics say the competition is not what it was and it is true it was dealt a hefty blow when Manchester United pulled out of it following their treble-winning season in 1999 to take part in the ill-fated World Club Cup in Brazil.