The middle-band Premier League teams are exploiting the opportunity of a gateway to Europe this competition brings, while many of the big boys are now fielding very strong teams from the outset in the hopes of making it to the latter stages.
One of the Premier League heavyweights will be in action on Tuesday as Man United visit MK Dons, in a clash that promises a potential upset and plenty of goals and one that should be played in front of a 29,000 sell-out at stadium:mk.
Both teams have their injury concerns, in particular United, who may have to put out a back four that has not played together before, something that Karl Robinson’s pacey frontrunners will be looking to exploit.
Louis van Gaal’s side’s excellent pre-season form promised much but hasn’t yet delivered in the Premier League, with an opening-day defeat at home to Swansea followed by a scrappy point at Sunderland.
Those results mean Van Gaal, still looking for his first competitive win of the campaign, may risk some of the players previously earmarked for a rest with Saturday’s game against Burnley in mind.
However, exciting young striker James Wilson, a player I rate highly, should start up front, while Adnan Januzaj should enjoy the magnificent pitch that the ground staff at stadium:mk have produced.
The game will be a big test of United’s attitude as if I cast my mind back to the last time they appeared in the second round of the League Cup they lost 4-3 on aggregate to York in October 1995.
It would be a shock to see The Red Devils exit at this stage, though, as they have won five of the last six matches against sides from a lower division.
MK Dons’ style has always been possession-based with a patient build-up that creates goal-scoring opportunities every so often, but this term Robinson has encouraged his men to increase the tempo of their passing without being too direct.
They now have more penetration than in previous years, with Dean Bowditch, Tom Hitchcock, Will Grigg and, in particular, Daniel Powell and Dele Alli offering a genuine goal threat.
Grigg leads the line well centrally and Powell and Alli have the pace, athleticism and trickery to worry any defence, while striker Beink Afobe has already found his shooting boots, netting in the cup against Wimbledon and in the league against Chesterfield.
Robinson reached a personal milestone in the last round of the Capital One Cup, securing his 100th win as a manager before the age of 34, which he turns next month, and a win versus United for the likeable Scouser, in one of the most exciting games at stadium: mk for years, would be a great birthday present.