First XI: League Cup breakthroughs
In recent years, managers have used the Carling Cup to give their young stars a chance to shine, while a number of players from the lower leagues have found their way into the limelight through the competition.
ESPNsoccernet selects the First XI players who rose to fame in the League Cup.
Rodney Marsh - QPR (1966-67)
Marsh began his career in the old First Division with Fulham in the '60s, but a succession of injuries meant he was unable to fulfil his potential with a club that had been flirting with relegation for some time.
It was after he was sold to Third Division side QPR in 1966 that his career finally got on track, and he was the club's shining light, scoring 44 goals in his first season.
It was through the League Cup that he took the national headlines, though, as QPR reached Wembley for the first time. Amid chants of "Rod-ney! Rod-ney!", Marsh scored a spectacular goal 15 minutes from time in a 3-2 win over top-flight West Brom before breaking down in tears of joy at the final whistle.
Don Rogers - Swindon (1968-69)
Despite spending the majority of his Robins career in the third tier, Rogers remains perhaps the greatest Swindon player of all time, and his role in the 1969 League Cup success was his crowning glory.
A skilful outside left with the ability to score goals, he was the key man as Third Division Swindon saw off Bertie Mee's highly-rated Arsenal side, which featured the likes of Bob Wilson, Frank McLintock and George Graham. Rogers scored twice in the second half of extra time - one a fierce drive and the other a neat piece of skill that left Wilson floored - to give his side a 3-1 win. A cheering crowd chanted "Rogers for England" upon his return to Wiltshire.
John James - Chester City (1974-75)
Chester City FC were sadly put out of business earlier this year but, in an existence that never saw them reach the top flight, they enjoyed perhaps their finest hour in the League Cup.
Having knocked out fellow lower-league sides Walsall, Blackpool and Preston, Chester welcomed English champions Leeds United to the Deva Stadium in the fourth round. Incredibly, James scored twice as the Division Four side won the game 3-0, with coach Brian Green describing it as "the greatest victory of all time".
In the fifth round, they were drawn away against another top-flight side, Newcastle. After a 0-0 draw at St James' Park, Chester booked their place in the semi-finals as James scored the only goal of the game in the replay. Chester were eliminated in dramatic fashion in the semis as Aston Villa won 5-4 on aggregate.
Chester scraped their way to promotion that season but, despite James' substantial efforts in league and cup, he fell out of favour in the Third Division and was sold to Tranmere.
Peter Barnes - Manchester City (1975-76)
The son of former City half-back Ken Barnes, Peter made his debut for City as a 17-year-old in 1974 and made an instant impression with his ability down the wing. He continued to attract positive notices in the press, and he really came to life in the League Cup the following season.
Returning from a broken collarbone for the semi-final against Middlesbrough, City lost the first leg 1-0, but Barnes played a defining role in the second - in a 4-0 win, Barnes created the first goal and scored the third. He then opened the scoring in the final itself as City saw off Newcastle 2-1 in a game that saw City star Dennis Tueart score an overhead kick that has been voted the finest goal in the competition's history.
The Daily Mirror said Barnes added "a 'Roy of the Rovers' touch" to the final and, the following Monday, he was crowned the Young Player of the Year at the PFA awards.
Chris Woods - Nottingham Forest (1977-78)
The arrival of the legendary goalkeeper Peter Shilton in September 1977 ensured Woods, a product of the Forest youth academy, would see his chances of breaking into Brian Clough's side all but ended. However, as Shilton was cup-tied having already played for Stoke, 18-year-old Woods was handed his first-team chance in the League Cup.
He took it with aplomb: Forest reached the final, where they held Liverpool 0-0. Liverpool and England 'keeper Ray Clemence said he was "truly magnificent" in that game and that "I only hope he doesn't keep it up" in the replay. Unfortunately for Clemence, he did keep it up and, with Terry McDermott seeing an effort ruled out for handball, Forest took the trophy with a 1-0 win courtesy of a dubious penalty.
He remained back-up to Shilton the following season but, at 20 years old, he secured a £250,000 move to QPR in 1979 and went on to become an established England international, having spent another spell as Shilton's understudy.
Robbie Fowler - Liverpool (1993-94)
One of the finest natural goal-scorers the city of Liverpool has ever produced, an 18-year-old Fowler made his first-team debut in a League Cup tie at Fulham in September 1993, setting up two goals before scoring the third himself in a 3-1 win. It was in the second leg at Anfield, though, that he truly announced his arrival - he hit all five goals in a 5-0 victory.
He continued to rattle in goals for the first-team throughout the rest of October and, after a hat-trick against Southampton at the end of the month, boss Graeme Souness said: "You saw a young man today who can be anything he wants in football."
Paul Scholes - Manchester United (1994-95)
Alex Ferguson's pre-season announcement that he would be playing his kids in the League Cup caused more than a little controversy in 1994: the competition's rule 18 states that clubs were obliged to play a full-strength team unless they had a satisfactory reason not to do so.
United's first appearance in the competition that year, a second-round tie at First Division side Port Vale, saw Ferguson make ten changes from the previous game, but there would have been few supporters disappointed by the entertainment on offer at Vale Park. In a team containing the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt, it was a 19-year-old Scholes who stole the headlines, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win.
Scholes, who had drawn comparisons with Eric Cantona from his manager, then went on to score in his league debut against Ipswich three days later.
Jason Crowe - Arsenal (1997-98)
Having failed to make the grade at Arsenal, Crowe is likely to be forever remembered for his record-breaking debut.
Making his first senior appearance in the League Cup against Birmingham at the start of extra time, he lasted a full 33 seconds before referee Uriah Rennie showed him a red card for his reckless tackle on Martin O'Connor.
Dave Challinor - Tranmere (1999-2000)
The wind beneath Rory Delap's wings, Challinor was a centre back who had spent all six years of his career in the second-tier with Tranmere when he started to attract major attention as a result of his world-record, 46-yard throw-ins.
Challinor was at the heart of Tranmere's march to the League Cup final in 2000, and he found himself becoming the focal point. Ahead of their semi-final first leg at Bolton, Sam Allardyce's men moved their advertising hoardings closer to the pitch to impede his run-up, but still suffered a 1-0 defeat.
Ahead of the second leg at Tranmere, boss John Aldridge hit back with a ruse of his own, fabricating a story that Challinor had suffered ankle ligament damage to throw Bolton's plans into disarray. It seemed to work - his fifth-minute throw-in created the opening goal in a game they went on to win 3-0.
Unfortunately for Challinor, the League made the decision to ban towels - used for extra purchase - ahead of the Wembley final against Leicester and the defender's throws made little impact on a game Tranmere lost 2-1.
Wayne Rooney - Everton (2002-03)
Two weeks before his last-gasp strike against Arsenal, Rooney made headlines when, as a 16-year-old, his stunning brace against Wrexham in the League Cup made him Everton's youngest ever goal-scorer.
"I'd heard about Rooney in pre-season and he came on as a substitute when we played Everton in a friendly," former Wrexham defender Paul Whitfield told The Leader this summer. "Rooney was getting a lot of hype around him.
"One of the goals he put through my legs as I came sliding out. He didn't try to dink it over me, nothing daft, he just slid it through my legs, and you have got to be very talented to do something like that. To do something special at that age was something special, and then to do that to David Seaman - players like that are unbelievable."
Cesc Fabregas - Arsenal (2003-04)
Fabregas left Barcelona as a 16-year-old in September 2003 in search of more first-team football and, only a month later, he made his senior debut in a League Cup tie against Rotherham.
He became the Gunners' youngest ever player that day and fans soon realised he was the genuine article. In his next League Cup match, Fabregas became the club's youngest ever goal-scorer, netting in a 5-1 victory over Wolves.
Patrick Vieira, the man a young Fabregas rated as the world's best midfielder, said after the Wolves game: "He has a brilliant future. He is fantastic."
Gael Clichy, another debutant against Rotherham that September, ended up making 22 competitive appearances for Arsenal that season and became the youngest player to win a Premier League winners' medal.