Norwich v Villa match preview: No shift in focus from Lambert
Different venue. Different context. Same message.
As with the October 27 league meeting between the two clubs, Villa's manager has been keen to avoid tonight's Capital One Cup clash turning into a Paul Lambert-Norwich reunion frenzy.
Of course, the hyperbole surrounding Lambert's latest encounter with his former club has been greater this time around because of what is at stake.
Not only will he step out at Carrow Road for the first time since he masterminded a 2-0 victory over Villa on the final day of 2011-12, but a place in the semi-finals of a major competition is up for grabs.
A last four spot would represent something tangible to show for the progress Lambert's Lions have made since his arrival in July.
With the romance of knockout football, the rewards on offer and an intriguing subplot, it all adds up to a night of classic English cup action.
"That is what it is all about," said the Scotsman. "That is the game. That is why everybody plays it and that is why everyone wants to come and watch it.
"It is a tough game but we are playing well enough to go and win.
"We are going there and it has got to finish on the night so we've got to try and get through.
"Norwich are going really fine at the minute and the crowd will really be behind them.
"We are more than capable of getting through. We will go down there and play attacking football."
The fruits of Lambert's labour have finally been recognised by the neutrals in recent weeks thanks to encouraging performances against Sunderland, Manchester United, Arsenal, Reading and Stoke City.
But there is a strong belief that success in the League Cup could help his fledgling side kick on an extra gear.
Having won the competition with Villa in 1996 and Middlesbrough in 2004, former defender Ugo Ehiogu knows all about the knock-on effect of cup glory.
"One of these games can give you a lift for the rest of the season," said Ehiogu.
"Hopefully if Villa can win and then they can start putting a few league results together, it might provide a bit of impetus for a push after Christmas so they can be looking upwards.
"It has been such a long time since the heady heights of 1996 so it would be great to see them do it again."
But Norwich will no doubt feel a victory could have a similar impact on their season.
The Canaries are on a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions under Chris Hughton, who has continued the upward curve started by Lambert during his three years in East Anglia.
Indeed, the only time Lambert ventured off message in the build-up to this tie was to recognise the qualities of his successor.
"I hope the Norwich fans concentrate on Chris," he said.
"He's done fantastically well. It's his club, it's his team now.
"His track record is fantastic. He has got a really good club there and some really good people.
"I had three years and we had one hell of a time at it, but it's Chris's club now."
Norwich City v Villa
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Ashley Westwood is cup tied for Villa having already featured in the competition for Crewe.
Ron Vlaar and Enda Stevens remain doubtful with calf and ankle injuries respectively.
Defender Michael Turner is back in contention for Norwich.
Alexander Tettey and Ryan Bennett are sidelined, while Wes Hoolahan [groin] and Steven Whittaker [hip] are doubtful.
Villa will be wearing their traditional home kit of claret and blue.
LAST TIME OUT
Norwich 2-0 Villa
Villa have won all four previous League Cup ties against Norwich, including the 1975 final.
Five of the last eight fixtures between the two clubs have ended in a draw.
This is the third time in four seasons that Villa have reached the quarter-finals.
The claret and blues have been successful in 13 of their previews 19 last-eight ties.
Villa have only failed to score in one of their last 12 League Cup ties.
This is Norwich's first appearance in the quarter-finals since 1995-96.
Go to full match coverage for Norwich 1 - 4 Aston Villa (11th December 2012) >
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