By Dan Harrison
The city of Manchester has seen its fair share of comebacks this year.
Villa's Capital One Cup opponents Manchester City produced the most stunning finale to a domestic football season in living memory.
Seminal indie band The Stone Roses put aside their differences for the most unlikely of resurrections.
Last week, two-weight world boxing champion and staunch City fan Ricky Hatton announced that he is ready to don the gloves again after three-year hiatus.
Why will this bring any comfort to the Villa fans descending on the Etihad Stadium this evening, you may ask?
Because tonight's third round tie presents a huge opportunity for a Villa revival.
Not just a chance to bounce back from Saturday's defeat at Southampton, but to lay down a marker for the Paul Lambert era.
Excellent displays and results against Newcastle and Swansea highlighted the positive groundwork the new boss has put in place during his first few months at the helm.
But what better way to show that Villa are a team reinvigorated than by producing something exceptional in the back yard of the champions?
A giant leap, a catalyst for Lambert's 'young and hungry' Villa.
It is easier said than done, of course.
Villa's record on the blue half of Manchester has been far from great since City swapped Maine Road for the Etihad.
It could be better described as 'Wastelands' rather than 'Eastlands' for the claret and blue faithful, who have seen their side triumph just once at the 2002 Commonwealth Games venue.
Nevertheless, the Villa camp sense an opportunity.
There was no sense of trepidation from Joe Bennett when he was quizzed about the encounter.
"These are definitely the kind of challenges you want to take on as a player," he said.
"I want to play against the best players and Manchester City have a lot of them.
"We're going to the Etihad and not many people are expecting us to win. That can be a good thing."
It's often said that the League Cup offers clubs competing outside of the Barclays Premier League's top four the best route to success.
For Villa, the knock-on effect of reaching round four could have even greater significance.
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