Sheffield Wednesday vs Sunderland predictions: Owls out for revenge
Sheffield Wednesday host Sunderland in the Carabao Cup with designs on avenging last season's play-off heartbreak suffered at the hands of Alex Neil's men.
But with league campaigns taking priority at this early point, fringe figures may have a part to play in settling an old debt.
Both sides have earned four points from their opening pair of fixtures, leaving the Black Cats second in the Championship and the Owls fourth in League One.
Sunderland tempered the disappointment of letting an opening-day lead slip late on against Coventry by holding out for a rollercoaster 3-2 victory against Bristol City.
And they could bring that momentum to Hillsborough for a midweek encounter against a side that scraped past MK Dons on Saturday thanks to a Josh Windass penalty.
Darren Moore's men were far from convincing in their first competitive game after their play-off semi-final exit as they drew 3-3 with Portsmouth.
They led twice but conceded three times in 15 second-half minutes before limping over the line with a late equaliser from Fisayo Dele-Bashiru.
Wednesday should find comfort in the fact that Lee Gregory returns from suspension to shore up the attack, having missed the MK Dons match following a late dismissal against Portsmouth for a second bookable offence.
The good news is balanced by the likely absence of new signing Michael Smith, who is again set to miss out through a minor niggle.
An injury to Akin Famewo in Saturday's action may mean appearances for Jack Hunt and Dominic Iorfa.
For the visitors, defender Aji Alese — freshly arrived from West Ham — is expected to play a part at the back. Forward Leon Dajaku could also feature following an added-time cameo in the win over Bristol City.
Sunderland have been effective with limited possession in their opening two matches, registering six shots on target — three of which ultimately provided goals — against the Robins despite holding the ball just 41% of the time.
Their return to the second tier against Coventry gave a similar pattern, with the Black Cats managing five goalbound efforts to their opponents' two from just 38% possession.
Wednesday dominated possession on the opening weekend, but a leaky defence proved costly.
Fans endured low-scoring affairs when the two sides met in the play-offs in May, with Sunderland advancing to Wembley courtesy of a 2-1 aggregate victory.
The regular season encounters were veritable goal fests — the Wearsiders made amends for a 3-0 away defeat by putting five unanswered goals past the Owls at the Stadium of Light.
Securing the services of young Everton forward Ellis Simms on loan may prove a masterstroke from Neil.
So far, the swoop is paying dividends, with an Ashton Gate double leaving the striker in hot form.
A depth of attacking options in particular — with current frontman Ross Stewart providing yet more firepower — may prove the difference at Hillsborough, especially if German Dajaku can make a mark as he chases a first-team spot.
Two matches at a superior level will likely have conditioned Sunderland to a higher degree than their League One opposition and an away win for one of the Championship's form teams feels a sensible option.