On Tuesday and Wednesday evening, the semi-finals of the 54th League Cup competition were held at the Stadium of Light and the City of Manchester Stadium, respectively.
In the first match, Manchester United's miserable 2014 continued with a defeat at the hands of Sunderland. This loss to the Premier League's worst team means David Moyes' men have kicked off the year with three consecutive 2-1 losses.
Worryingly, this represents the first time Utd have lost three games in a row since May 2001, and those were the final games of the season when they had already wrapped up the title.
Full credit is due to Sunderland for grafting a well-deserved first leg lead, but United were negative, unattractive, unable to finish and guilty of careless defending. Moyes gave us a good laugh by blaming the situation on the referee at full time, but this game was clearly indicative of much bigger problems—and a dressing room that has been lost.
At Eastlands on Wednesday night, meanwhile, Manchester City gave West Ham a comprehensive lesson in how to play football—something they showed little aptitude for.
Looking to bounce back from an embarrassing 5-0 rout in the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest at the weekend, the Hammers had matched that scoreline within an hour and conceded one more time for good measure.
Sam Allardyce may argue that the league is the priority, but shipping eleven unanswered goals in the Cups this week will do little for their confidence.
Even when they were coasting along in the second half, Man City were far superior, showing the fearsome goal-scoring prowess that has made Eastlands a fortress this season. Manuel Pellegrini's side have now managed 59 goals in 15 home matches, an average of 3.9 per match.
Clearly there is only one stadium in Manchester that teams are afraid to visit right now.
Read on for some of the best images from the first legs of the League Cup semis...