WHAT is the most eye-catching thing about the only other cup final to have taken place between Manchester City and Chelsea ahead of this afternoon's Carabao Cup meeting?

Take your pick. It was the 1986 Full Members Cup and 67,000 – officially, at least – crammed into Wembley to witness the climax of a tournament created to fill the void left by English clubs’ removal from European competition following the Heysel disaster.

It was quite an afternoon. Chelsea eventually prevailed 5-4, having been 5-1 up at one point thanks to David Speedie’s hat-trick – the first in a Wembley final since Geoff Hurst in 1966.

The frenetic nature of the contest was all the more impressive given both sides had played a league game the day before, Chelsea beating Southampton and City playing out a derby draw with United. Ten players from each side who started in the league matches also played at Wembley.

“It annoys me in the modern game when managers or players moan about having three games in a week,” says Joe McLaughlin who had scored Chelsea’s winning goal at the Dell and then lined up in defence against City.

“We never thought anything of playing twice that weekend. Now you’ve got squads of 25 earning around £50,000 a week with sports scientists supporting their every need. But can you imagine them being asked to play two days in a row? No chance.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the 1986 final, however, is the nationalities of those involved. Unlike the cosmopolitan line-ups that will feature in today’s final, there was noticeably less glamour in those days.

McLaughlin was one of five Scots in the Chelsea team - Speedie, Pat Nevin, Doug Rougvie and Kevin McAllister also featured - while Billy McNeill’s City were all English-born apart from sole Scot Neil McNab.

McLaughlin, who now runs Soccer Icon, a firm that places players on US soccer scholarships, and is also assistant manager at Albion Rovers, spent six years at Chelsea, many as captain, winning two second division titles. He has watched the metamorphosis of his old club backed by billions of Russian rubles and wonders if it has all been for the better.

“I remember that final as clear as day as it’s one of the highlights of my career,” he says. “I still speak to a lot of older Chelsea fans and there’s a fair few who wish they could go back to those days. The game has changed so much because of the influx of television money. It’s a business now and that drives everything.

“People will say the quality is higher but I don’t agree. You only had to watch Pat Nevin in full flight. He was unbelievable. And that was on much worse pitches than you get now. There’s no passion anymore and it’s so sanitised. Don’t get me wrong – there are some fantastic players in the Premier League but there are a lot of very average ones, too.

“I’m now working at the very bottom with Albion Rovers where it’s very real. Our total annual wage budget is less than what many Premier League players in England earn in a week. That’s the reality of life in the Scottish lower leagues. Football isn’t all about glamour and big money.”

There is a gold plate in the Chelsea museum that marks McLaughlin’s tenure as captain. He tagged on the end of a group of Chinese tourists taking the stadium tour just to get the chance to see it. But when he stepped on to the pitch to relive memories from his playing days it was a different story.

“I thought it would be nice to have a wander on the pitch,” he says. “I was told it was OK. But just after I had stepped on the pitch a security guy came running over telling me I had to get off. I pointed out I was just wearing a pair of loafers and wasn’t going to be doing any slide tackles!

“I knew that was probably going to be my last chance to do it so I told him I would get off when I was ready. I had only wanted a quick chance to revisit some memories but the moment was spoiled for me. That just feels what Chelsea has become now.”