Liverpool travel to Bournemouth on Wednesday night, seeking to book their place in the Carabao Cup quarter finals.
I don't think it's controversial to suggest that chasing a record-extending tenth League Cup trophy for the club would not have been high on the list of Jurgen Klopp's priorities at the start of the 2023/24 season.
However, England's second cup competition starts to feel less like an annoying, schedule-clogging distraction and more like an enticing chance for silverware the longer you stay in it. A win on Wednesday will leave the Reds needing just two more to reach the final.
Co-incidentally, a clash with Bournemouth in the last 16 of this competition also marks a repeat of the fixture that brought the very first win of the Klopp era at Liverpool – almost exactly eight years ago.
The German famously took charge at Anfield back in the autumn of 2015, after Brendan Rodgers' dismal start to the 2015/16 season saw him dismissed.
Klopp's first three games all ended in draws – firstly, a creditable, hard-fought 0-0 away at Spurs, before a more frustrating 1-1 at home to Southampton, during which future Liverpool legend Sadio Mane was sent off for the visitors. Those Premier League games were followed up with another 1-1 at home to Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.
After three games without a win, Klopp's Liverpool took on newly minted Premier League side Bournemouth at Anfield in the League Cup round of 16 on 28 October.
Klopp's first Liverpool win
In a sign of what was to come, the new manager put out a much-changed side for his first fixture in the cup, giving retrospective looks back at the teamsheet a heightened sense of just how far Liverpool have come.
Liverpool's last Hungarian before Dominik Szoboszlai, Adam Bogdan started in goal, in front of a backline of forgotten youth team star Connor Randall (now at Ross County), Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne.
The midfield was made up of current Oxford United midfielder Cameron Brannagan, Joe Allen, Jordon Ibe (now at Ebbesfleet United), Roberto Firmino and Jose Carlos Teixeira (Shanghai Shenhua), with Divock Origi as the starting striker.
Adam Lallana, Lucas Leiva and Martin Skrtel came on during the game, while Philippe Coutinho was among the unused subs of what can be described kindly as a team in transition – with a mash-up of parts cobbled together from across the Rodgers, Dalglish and even Benitez eras.
FT: Liverpool 1 - 0 Bournemouth.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 28, 2015
Clyne got the only goal of the game after 17 minutes (one of only two he ever scored for Liverpool), finishing into an empty net after Teixeira's attempted backheel beat Bournemouth keeper Adam Federici but was cleared off the line.
The victory became a future pub quiz question as the new manager's first win, while Reds went on to make their first final under Klopp in the League Cup that season, ultimately losing the final to Manchester City on penalties.
Klopp has dubbed his 2023/24 squad 'Liverpool 2.0' after the squad overhaul that followed 2022/23's under-achievements. However, regardless of the XI Klopp chooses to take on Bournemouth this Wednesday, it will undoubtedly be a stronger and more coherent team than the one he had at his disposal eight years ago.
The tie, then, offers the Liverpool players a chance to reach the last eight of the competition, while fans should use the opportunity to reflect on just how far Klopp has taken this club.