They call it the ‘romance of the FA Cup’, but in recent seasons, City have faced a succession of sides from the Premier League or Championship.
The real romance of the FA Cup surely happens when your team pulls out a so-called minnow – a side in the third or fourth tier.
And better still, what if your team pulls out a non-League side in the third round – the stage when the so-called ‘big boys’ enter the fray?
The third round is where the magic really happens, but the Blues have waited quite a while to face a side outside of the top two divisions. In fact, in 16 successive FA Cup draws, City have pulled out either a Premier League side or a Championship outfit.
Add the League Cup draws and it is 37 separate pulls out of the metaphorical hat since the Blues have met a team from outside the top two tiers – in the same time period Liverpool have faced 12 teams from League 1 and 2 and Manchester United 10 in the combined competitions!
Proof, if needed, that lady luck has deserted the Blues when the draws are made for domestic cup competitions. Some would say in the Champions League, too.
Of course, in the latter stages, you expect to face other top teams, but the third round offers the opportunity of meeting a club you either don’t normally face or perhaps have never played.
An away trip to a smaller ground where state-of-the art facilities aren’t quite the way you’d maybe describe the conditions can be a throwback to yesteryear and, in many cases, a rare opportunity to stand on a terrace – something many youngsters will never have had the opportunity to do.
City’s last opponents from outside the top two tiers were Notts County – then 59 places lower in the league ladder – and it was a game that proved to be something of an edgy affair with the hosts holding a 1-0 lead up until the 80th minute when Edin Dzeko finally levelled at Meadow Lane.
In 2008, the Blues were beaten by Championship side Sheffield United who beat City 2-1 at Bramall Lane – scene of the famous ‘balloongate’ goal when Gary Shelton’s shot beat Joe Hart whose area was plagued by the balloons released by the Blues’ 6,000-strong travelling army.
City were once the victims of one of the FA Cup’s biggest shocks in 1980 when Fourth Division Halifax Town scored a famous 1-0 win over Malcolm Allison’s side at The Shay.
The West Yorkshire strugglers saw off a side packed with seasoned internationals and big money signings as the Blues hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The last time City faced a non-League side was 45 years ago when Colin Bell’s solitary goal saw off then-Northern Premier League side Wigan Athletic at Maine Road.
So what of this year’s FA Cup?
The third round draw is live on BBC 2 on Monday evening and City fans will be hoping for a touch of FA Cup romance and a draw that will spark the imagination.
Curzon Ashton would have been an incredible tie – particularly as manager John Flanagan is a lifelong Blue and was dreaming of taking his side to the Etihad.
For 80 minutes of Sunday’s second round tie it looked at least a possibility as his side lead AFC Wimbledon 3-0 – but the Wombles’ dramatic late comeback saw Curzon eventually defeated 4-3.
There are still a few non-League clubs in the competition and Sutton United will be dreaming of pulling a ‘big fish’ out of the hat.
Or how about a trip to Cumbria to face Barrow who saw off Bristol Rovers in one of the shocks of the second round?
Stourbridge will be in the hat after their second round game with Northampton was called off and Lincoln City, FC Halifax and Eastleigh will all go into tonight’s draw.
Macclesfield Town would be another fantastic draw for Blues’ fans – though the Silkmen must overcome a tricky replay away to Oxford United to progress to the Third Round.
Burton Albion, Accrington Stanley, Newport County and Rochdale would all make fascinating opposition for City who will be No.24 in tonight’s draw.
All will be revealed later this evening…
FA Cup Third Round Proper draw numbers:
1 AFC BOURNEMOUTH
3 ASTON VILLA
5 BIRMINGHAM CITY
6 BLACKBURN ROVERS
8 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
9 BRISTOL CITY
11 BURTON ALBION
12 CARDIFF CITY
14 CRYSTAL PALACE
15 DERBY COUNTY
18 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
19 HULL CITY
20 IPSWICH TOWN
21 LEEDS UNITED
22 LEICESTER CITY
24 MANCHESTER CITY
25 MANCHESTER UNITED
27 NEWCASTLE UNITED
28 NORWICH CITY
29 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
30 PRESTON NORTH END
31 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
33 ROTHERHAM UNITED
34 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
36 STOKE CITY
38 SWANSEA CITY
39 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
41 WEST BROMWICH ALBION
42 WEST HAM UNITED
43 WIGAN ATHLETIC
44 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
45 AFC WIMBLEDON
46 WYCOMBE WANDERERS
48 MACCLESFIELD TOWN OR OXFORD UNITED
49 BOLTON WANDERERS
51 STOURBRIDGE OR NORTHAMPTON TOWN
52 NOTTS COUNTY OR PETERBOROUGH UNITED
53 CAMBRIDGE UNITED
54 PORT VALE
56 ACCRINGTON STANLEY
57 LINCOLN CITY OR OLDHAM ATHLETIC
58 LUTON TOWN
59 SUTTON UNITED
60 EASTLEIGH OR FC HALIFAX TOWN
61 SHREWSBURY TOWN OR FLEETWOOD TOWN
62 CHARLTON ATHLETIC OR MILTON KEYNES DONS
63 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE OR NEWPORT COUNTY