There will never be an easy time to play Wolves at Molineux this season, but for Walsall the fixture may be just what they need.
The manner of Saturday’s humbling at home to Preston has cast a question mark over the Saddlers, their bright start to the season now very much forgotten.
Defeats to Brentford and Stoke were disappointing but had positives.
As boss Dean Smith was quick to point out, there were no plus points from Saturday’s performance.
Once again they failed to test an opposing keeper with any regularity but of much more concern was the way they were out-battled and frequently beaten to the punch by the visitors.
If the manager and his players want to prove it was just a blip, beating their rivals in their own backyard would go a long way to quelling any fears among fans. The timing could be perfect.
A much-improved performance is the minimum requirement, though Smith is under no illusions about the task at hand. “It’s the toughest draw we could have got,” he said. “They are the favourites to win League One and, therefore, the favourites to win this.
“But we see it as another game we can go out and win.
“We want good runs in the cups. We had a taste of playing a Premier League team on Wednesday and we will be going to a former Premier League ground tonight.
“The players will know it means a lot to the fans. The majority of our players are local anyway and will know the importance to the supporters.
“But as you saw at Stoke, they realised the importance then as well. We will look forward to it.”
There was plenty of focus on Smith’s team selection in the aftermath of Saturday’s defeat and the boss was quick to admit he had probably chosen the wrong side.
Teenage left-back Mal Benning, whose substitution was sarcastically cheered by a section of the home support, is likely to be given a much-needed rest with Andy Taylor coming back in.
Midfielder Nicky Featherstone and Romaine Sawyers, both dropped after impressive performances at Stoke in the Capital One Cup, are also likely to return.
Sawyers may replace Milan Lalkovic or the manager could opt to rest Craig Westcarr, who has largely under-performed since his opening-day brace in the 3-1 win over Tranmere Rovers.
Troy Hewitt, one of several summer arrivals in the forwards department, is yet to start a game.
Skipper Andy Butler was one of many struggling to put his finger on the reason behind Saturday’s performance.
The usually solid centre-back was given a testing time by veteran defender Kevin Davies and admits the whole team are keen to put things right.
“I don’t know what happened really but on Saturday it all just felt a little bit flat,” he said.
“That’s up to us as a team to get things going.
“We put a good performance in against Stoke and a good second half performance against Brentford.
“We must look to start game better now and I’m sure that is something the gaffer will have us looking at.
“Wolves is a big game but only because it’s the next game.
“We will approach it like we do every game and look at their strengths and weaknesses.
“We will of course see where we can do better.
“If you can’t get yourself up for a local derby game, then when can you?”
Like Notts County and Preston before them, Preston had great success in stifling the Saddlers passing game by pressing up the field and reducing space.
Butler has already admitted Smith’s side can no longer count on being the surprise package and must learn to adapt their game when they have to.
“There wasn’t a lot of space against Preston and that is where we have got to learn,” he added.
“We will look at the video and improve. We moved the ball well at times but there was no real injection of pace which there has been in other games.
“But we can’t beat ourselves up. It’s only two losses in the league.
“We’ll dust ourselves down and get ready for Wolves.”