Five months and 25 days - that's how long it has been since Burton Albion last played a competitive fixture. Throughout those 178 days, the club have seen dramatic changes at all levels of their pyramid. Old boss Nigel Clough stepped aside, leading to workhorse Jake Buxton taking the reins, adding the manager role to his contract.
Accrington Stanley themselves have faced a serious lull between fixtures. 181 days have passed since their 1-2 loss to Tranmere Rovers in March. Now, unlike his junior counterpart Jake Buxton, John Coleman has 22 years experience of managing, spending over 18 of those at his beloved Accy.
The Carabao Cup will ease both sides back into competitive football after an odd pre-season. In their final pre-season game, The Brewers earned a solid 0-1 victory away to Championship side Stoke City - with new signing Kane Hemmings notching his tally to five for the club.
The Brewers have seen a decent turnover in players in the off-months. Like many clubs, Burton have been heavily affected financially by the Coronavirus pandemic. Not least losing manager Nigel Clough, but the midlands side have seen many players leave to help balance the books. However, some, including midfield maestro Stephen Quinn and versatile defender John Brayford have taken significant pay-cuts to remain at the Pirelli.
Burton born-and-bred Kane Hemmings finally gets a crack at playing for his home town club, after he was released by Scottish side Dundee F.C. The forward is known for being a proven goalscorer, and he seems to have hit the ground running - with five goals in pre-season. He is joined by Stephen Lawless, Michael Bostwick, Neal Eardley and Charles Vernam in slipping on the yellow shirt.
Defender Reece Hutchinson has been plagued with an ankle injury throughout pre-season after slipping on a kerb whilst on a jog, trying to maintain his fitness. However, his return is expected soon as his recovery continues.
The club have been making many signings this summer in preparation for the new season. Matt Butcher and Thomas Scully are two who will be aiming to start fast for the Lancashire outfit. Mohammed Sangare comes in from Newcastle United on loan for the season. The midfielder was on-trial at Accy when he was a youngster, however a work-permit issue saw a possible contract fail.
The club have been moth-balled like others, and therefore finances are tight. However, with being an ambitious team, players are willing to join to be part of the bigger project.
Brewers manager Jake Buxton had this to say to iFollowBrewers ahead of his debut as a manager:
"(I'm) Really happy with how things are going.
"I'm relishing the opportunity and the challenge, and I can't wait to get started, and I'm sure the players are like that as well.
"We've done the hard work, the players look fresh.
"The attitude in the group is top notch. It is now up to the players, myself, and the staff to make sure we are prepared and ready to go; I'm sure we are."
Accrington Stanley's John Coleman spoke to the club's official website ahead of the clash:
"I'm really looking forward to the game tomorrow, you can start to see a pattern and a shape emerging with the players in training.
"We're focusing on playing football now, which myself and the rest of the coaching staff love preparing for games, watching the opposition and planning strategies to counter what they can do.
"It's the thrill of the battle now and we're looking forward to it."
The clubs have a very even record when facing each other - with six wins a piece and four draws. The most recent meeting was in League One back in January. The game ended in a 1-1 draw at the Pirelli Stadium. Goals from John Brayford and Dion Charles respectively. Albion have lost just one of the last five meetings.
How and where to watch
Kick-off is at 19:30pm BST.