Burton Albion will be Aston Villa's first test of the season, as Villa are yet to start their campaign due to fixture postponements. The two sides last met back in 2018, a 1-0 home win that day kick-started Burton's meteoric run to the semi-finals of this competition.
Since then, Villa have found themselves back amongst England's elite, with boss Dean Smith steering the ship to safety last season, staving off relegation straight back to the Championship.
Now, Villa will be hoping to take one further step compared to last season - aiming to win the competition this time around.
The Brewers began their third season in League One away to Fleetwood Town on Saturday. A Paddy Madden goal condemned Burton to a 2-1 loss at Highbury.
Both outfits will now have their attentions drawn to the EFL Cup - Burton defeated Accrington Stanley on penalties in the first round to reach this second round stage.
The Brewers will be without John-Joe O'Toole following his straight dismissal against Fleetwood Town on Saturday afternoon. The former Northampton Town man wasn't friends with many referees last season. The 31-year-old was sent off twice and was shown 10 yellow cards in just 25 appearances for the Brewers.
Jake Buxton will be delighted that summer signing Charles Vernam has shaken off his slight knock and will be in contention to face Villa on Tuesday evening. He could be joined by Ryan Edwards - the Aussie midfielder got his first few minutes of the season under his belt in the defeat to Fleetwood, after being sidelined for the first few games.
It is possible that young English fullback Reece Hutchinson could be in contention to return to the bench. He is yet to feature this season after injuring his ankle during pre-season.
Neal Eardley will miss out. He tweaked his hamstring against Fleetwood, and will be out for up to two weeks.
Dean Smith's latest signing Ollie Watkins is in line to make his debut for Villa. The 28 million pound man from Brentford is Smith's marquee signing this summer, and given their struggles in front of goal last season, the manager will be hoping he can help supplement the issue. The forward has played just one pre-season fixture for Villa, and managed to notch a single goal in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
Matty Cash is also set to feature in his first competitive game for Aston Villa. The English right winger turned fullback was signed from Nottingham Forest for an inital fee of £14m pounds, rising to £16m with add-ons.
Burton Manager Jake Buxton spoke to iFollowBrewers on Monday afternoon, explaining what is on his mind pre-Villa:
“Villa have progressed since we last played them gaining promotion from the Championship and then retaining their Premier League status.
“You are never sure how they will come out of the blocks, but they have signed a couple of new players and we expect them to be full off beans and right at it. Matty Cash coming in from Forest we expect to be sharp, and Ollie Watkins coming in from Brentford we know can be a big threat. There is talent throughout their squad and we expect them to start quickly and we need to nullify them and play our game.
“We fully expect Villa to put a strong side out and we are preparing for their strongest 11. If it changes and they don’t, I will be encouraging our lads not to take them lightly and importantly to still play our brand of football, make a good game of it and take it to Villa as well.
“It’s about creating our own momentum and making sure we are ready for the challenge.”
Brewers skipper John Brayford spoke to the club's official website detailing his thoughts ahead of the fixture:
“We know from playing Villa in the past, it’s took us far in the competition and we know a good cup run can build momentum in the league, it really can.
“It’s not one of these competitions where people think it doesn’t make any difference, every game people are playing for their shirt at the end of the day.
“It’s another game that we will go into in high spirits as we know we played well in patches against Fleetwood, but we know we need to do better at other things which I’m sure we’ll work on.”
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith spoke to VillaTV in the build-up to the fixture:
"We'll start the season with Burton Albion away in the Carabao Cup, and as I've said many times before it's a competition we take seriously.
"We got to the final last season, and got beat narrowly by Manchester City, it's a competition Aston Villa have great tradition in.
"We've had some pre-season games that have got us ready... we played Arsenal, Bristol City, Wycombe and Manchester United as well.
"It's an important game, because it is our first game so we want to make sure we get a really positive start and a good performance to take into the Sheffield United game.
"[Burton] will be a big challenge... we're all looking forward to it. Jake Buxton has gone in there, and he'll have ambitions on getting his first cup upset."
The aforementioned EFL Cup second round tie is the most recent fixture between the two outfits. The 1-0 victory for the Brewers was part of an incredible run by the Brewers, which saw them motor past Burnley, Nottingham Forest, and Middlesborough, only to be stopped at the semi-final stage by a ruthless, oil-rich Manchester City.
The first fixture between the sides came back in 2016, during Burton's first ever season in the Championship. Villa ran out 2-1 victors that day, and went on to dominate the fixture up until that 1-0 EFL Cup loss - winning three and drawing one of the four Championship meetings.
How to watch
Burton Albion vs Aston Villa will be live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30pm; kick-off is at 7.45pm.
I suspect this will be a seriously difficult evening for the Brewers. Dean Smith is expected to name a strong outfit, aiming to not fall into the same false sense of superiority which Steve Bruce did back in 2018. The Brewers will give it a good go, but it is unlikely they'll be able to dent Villa's defence.
Predicted result: Burton Albion 0-3 Aston Villa