If Bradford City's principal ambition this season is winning promotion from League Two, Aston Villa's overriding aim remains avoiding relegation from the Premier League. Neither club, though, would say no to reaching a Wembley cup final.
The word transitional does not quite do justice to the turbulence of Paul Lambert's first season at Villa Park but the former Norwich manager stands only a two-leg tie away from the Capital One Cup final.
"For this club to get to Wembley again this year would be extraordinary," said Lambert before Tuesday's semi-final first leg at Valley Parade. "I think every player would tell you that, to get there, would be absolutely phenomenal and, in a one-off Wembley final, you just never know what could happen."
With Phil Parkinson's Bradford having knocked out Wigan and Arsenal in the past two rounds, Lambert's young side, whose average age is 23, should not underestimate their League Two challengers.
No matter that Parkinson's team have taken only five points from a possible 15 in the league since celebrating a famous quarter-final victory over Arsenal, thereby slipping just below the play-off places for the first time this season. Lambert is understandably wary.
"The Bradford lads will give it everything they have got to try to turn us over," said Villa's manager. "It will be a tough game for us and a really good atmosphere; Bradford have got nothing to lose and everything to gain."
Although Shay Given hopes to keep his place in goal, restricting Lambert's usual first-choice goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, to the bench, Christian Benteke is expected to be recalled at centre-forward after being rested for last weekend's FA Cup defeat of Ipswich. Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Charles N'Zogbia, who all returned to action during the Ipswich tie, were included in the squad which travelled to West Yorkshire but cannot be sure of securing starting places.
With Villa having suffered some poor festive results, most notably an 8-0 defeat at Chelsea, another giantkilling is widely forecast but Matt Duke, Bradford's goalkeeper, suspects that recent wounds make Lambert's side – perched one point and two places above the relegation zone – unusually dangerous.
"Villa are going to be well up for it," said Duke. "Everyone's been talking about their recent results so they'll want to prove a point – and it's a chance for them to win some silverware."
Undaunted, Parkinson wants to ambush Lambert's team. "This is a big club, a sleeping giant and we're trying to reawaken it," he said. "The win against Arsenal certainly reminded everybody that Bradford City [are] up and running and starting to get going again. Another really good performance would be great for the city again. I want the lads to enjoy it, to relish it, because we've worked very hard and overcome a lot of challenges to reach this point."
Despite recent league disappointments Bradford – a Premier League side 12 years ago – are still only three points off an automatic promotion position and their manager's bold reconstruction of his entire squad last summer appears to be paying dividends.
"It's the first time in Bradford's history we've reached this stage of this competition," said Parkinson. "It's a tremendous achievement by everybody at the club. It's going to be a tough challenge but our aim is to get to the second leg in two weeks' time still in the tie. We're very excited and we're going to enjoy it."