Tottenham skipper Ledley King has warned his team-mates they cannot let the Carling Cup affect their campaign like it did last season.
King, along with vice-captain Robbie Keane, lifted the trophy a year ago after beating Chelsea at Wembley but then won just three more Premier League games until Juande Ramos was sacked and Harry Redknapp appointed in October.
There were hopes that after ending their nine-year trophy drought, Spurs would mount a challenge to break into the Champions League places, rather than the relegation battle they have found themselves in.
Facing Manchester United in this season's final comes in the middle of a hectic period, with Spurs hosting Middlesbrough on Wednesday when they will be looking to get themselves closer to mid-table security.
"I think we really believed we could push on from last year's Carling Cup final win but the disappointing thing is that it has not happened," said King.
"We were looking to really push up the league this year and make a challenge and compete with the top four teams. That has not happened and that is disappointing. We know that we can beat the big teams on our day."
King, who is set to tell Redknapp whether his knee is ready for the game against United, was one of the players pictured partying until the early hours after winning the trophy last year but there is unlikely to be a repeat this time.
Redknapp's squad have been booked to stay in a hotel after the match, regardless of whether they win or lose.
It explains how important the Boro match is, as the trip to Hull was on Monday.
"Before the Hull game, I did say to the players when we trained and the day of the match that it was more important than the final next week," Redknapp said.
"I wanted to make sure we were focused on getting a win at Hull. If we'd got beaten there, we'd have been in a desperate position, bang in trouble.
"But that win gave us all a big lift. It started the week off right and gave us all a big boost for the rest of the week."
Redknapp rested his first team for the UEFA Cup clash against Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday, although Jamie O'Hara returned from injury and played his way into contention for Wembley.
Giovani dos Santos opened his Spurs account when he netted against the Ukrainian champions, his first goal in a frustrating debut season in England where he has struggled to make an impact.
It was only his third appearance under Redknapp, and the 19-year-old admits he eventually wants to move back to Barcelona.
"I left Barca because I was searching for more opportunities," he told Ona FM. "Sometimes in football, it's not just about who you love playing for and important and difficult decisions have to be made.
"I am learning a lot in the Premier League and I will continue working to try to return to Barcelona.
"I still have very good friends there. They are doing great this season and I hope they will end up winning a lot of titles."