Just less than a year ago Chelsea were set to face a lesser side in an FA Cup replay to keep their chances of silverware for the year alive.
The Blues were out of the League Cup, out of the league title race and, by general consensus, had no chance of finally landing the Champions League. In short, the FA Cup was it.
We all know what happened. Roberto Di Matteo led the team to victory in the replay against Birmingham and then defied all odds by winning the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Replace Champions League with Europa League – though it could never bring so much pleasure – and Birmingham with Brentford, and it’s an almost identical situation.
You’d think it should be an easy one. Even though it’s the FA Cup, even though Brentford deserved to win the first match, even though to lose would fit in well with the club’s story of the season so far.
This is a huge match for Brentford, but it’s a huge match for the home side as well. This is Chelsea’s best chance of silverware this season – and, despite the Europa League’s exotic name, the FA Cup is also the biggest trophy left to win.
Rafa Benitez has four new players available after Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Sparta Prague – David Luiz, Demba Ba, Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel – and John Terry and Ashley Cole could return to the starting line-up.
Although Benitez was infamous for his rotation at Liverpool he could start with a strong side against Brentford. As well as meaning a lot to the club, the FA Cup is the best chance the manager has of winning a trophy at Chelsea.