Tony Mowbray says he "is not sentimental" ahead of Middlesbrough's Capital One Cup quarter-final against Swansea City on Wednesday, insisting that any aspirations of repeating Boro's 2004 success are of secondary importance compared to achieving promotion.
Middlesbrough won the League Cup eight years ago under Steve McClaren but have not reached the last eight of the competition since the 2005-06 season. They were relegated from the Premier League in 2009 and two campaigns in mid-table were followed by a seventh-placed finish in the Championship last season. However, Mowbray's side are currently third, six points behind the leaders Cardiff.
Such is the manager's concern that his players remain fresh for Saturday's encounter with Wolves that Middlesbrough will not travel back to the north-east after the game at the Liberty Stadium – instead the squad will stay overnight in South Wales.
"Whilst it's nice to have a run in a cup competition, get the plaudits and potentially get to a semi-final, televised games and heighten the profile of your club, the bottom line come May is, if you don't finish in the top two or the top six, giving yourselves a chance, it's a wasted season," said Mowbray. "For the club, the ambition we have got is to try to get back there as quickly as we can.
"I am not that sentimental. Who were last year's semi-finalists? It doesn't matter. It matters when you stick your name on a trophy, then we could say what we had achieved.
"Our main target is to win league matches. When you are this close in a cup competition, you don't pick weakened teams, you pick your best team or your strongest team available to go and try to win. But I am still very, very conscious of the preparation for Saturday, which is why we are staying over rather than getting back at 5am so the players can get a decent night's sleep."
Michael Laudrup, though, has a trip to Wembley in his sights and is thankful that the cup tie can provide an instant opportunity for Swansea to put last Saturday's league defeat to Norwich behind them. "When you are a smaller club when do you ever get the chance to play for a trophy?" he said.
"Being in mid-table or avoiding relegation is great, but it is a special feeling to win a trophy and we can do it with a cup. I have been to Wembley as a player, and been to finals as a manager and it's special. Cups are so special, you can win, lose or draw in the league, but in the cup it is one or the other – you go on or you're out."
The Swansea manager will make changes to his side as Ashley Williams is suspended while there are injury doubts over Leon Britton, Pablo Hernández and the goalkeeper Michel Vorm. Middlesbrough's on-loan midfielder Josh McEachran is ineligible and Justin Hoyte could be recalled to the squad after last weekend's 3-2 victory at Peterborough.
Swansea, who are third favourites for this year's competition, have never played Middlesbrough in the League Cup although the last meeting between the two sides in February 2011 ended in a 4-3 victory for the Welsh side, then managed by Brendan Rodgers.
Mowbray, who on Tuesday questioned the need for safety nets in football stadiums following a proposal by the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, may have played down his side's chances of progression, but a win would generate momentum in a season where Middlesbrough could return to the Premier League.