Even in the good times, it was not often that Manchester United made the trip to London to Wembley Stadium for an FA Cup game. Often times over the past decade since the opening of the New Wembley in 2007, United have only had to journey there for the odd Community Shield game at the start of the season.
As such, Saturday's trip to Wembley to face a rather out of sorts Everton side will remain something for romantics to cling to in an otherwise forgettable season. It was against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembey in 2009 that Dimitar Berbatov conjured a lazy spot kick to ensure that the Liverpool club and not us progressed to the final against Chelsea.
Before that, Didier Drogba popped up in the last few minutes of extra time to deny United what would have been an historic Cup triumph and League and Cup double on the occasion of the new stadium's opening in May 2007.
As such, United have an awful record at the FA's prize stadium.Indeed, victory tomorrow would see United record only their first FA Cup win at the new ground---an incredible statistic considering the decision to move semi-finals to the venue as well.
The plight of our Merseyside opponents mean that incredibly Louis van Gaal will walk his young side into the Cup semifinal as marginal favourites. Except that often times this season, and indeed under the Dutchman generally, United have looked the part when they walk into a fixture as underdogs and the reverse has been true when they have been assumed as favourites. Everton, it has to be remembered, easily overcame a testing Chelsea challenge in the last 8 of the competition to book their place in the last four. On their day, as we saw only too well at Old Trafford recently, they have the tools to topple anyone.
Lest we forget as well that United themselves are not in a position to cause much concern to the opposition. The youthful nature of the club's first team means that occasions such as tomorrow when game management could be required at several points in the game puts the club second best when compared to the relative experience in terms of age in the Everton team.
However, a run of four wins in five in all competitions has restored a semblance of confidence in the team. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have formed an understanding up top that looks to have the club in good stead. Lingard and Mata have done well to tag along that group. Now there's Wayne Rooney whom the manager is considering using behind the lot to stretch the play. It worked a treat in midweek against Crystal Palace, but Everton will not be as obliging opponents given what is at stake.
It's astonishing that in Manchester United's worst domestic season so far, the club is on the verge of an FA Cup Final appearance. A last chance salon perhaps for manager and players to make the season count. There'll be lots of red folk in London this weekend willing them on to that achievement.