So the waiting is nearly over and Shrewsbury Town could not be in much better shape as they get ready to take on Chelsea’s collection of international stars.
Having reeled off four straight victories in League Two, the latest a 2-1 fightback triumph over Portsmouth, any fears that the impending Capital One Cup fourth clash against Jose Mourinho’s men could be a distraction have proved to be unfounded.
Now Shrewsbury have nothing to lose and everything to gain as they prepare for the eyes of the footballing world to be focused on the Greenhous Meadow this evening.
What a night it promises to be with a record crowd of more than 10,000, some watching from two temporary stands assembled to increase capacity, descending on the Meadow to see if Town can pull off what would be one of the biggest shocks in League Cup history.
Micky Mellon, the Town manager, had resisted the temptation to discuss the Chelsea tie in recent weeks, preferring instead to understandably focus on the quest for League Two points, but now his excitement is clear as he prepares to go head to head with Mourinho.
Mellon said: “We’ve done all our homework, as much as we can, but we know we’re in for an unbelievable test – but one that we’re not scared of and one that we’re definitely going to enjoy.
“We’re going to make sure we take part in it and suck in all the atmosphere and it promises to be a fantastic night in Shrewsbury.”
Mellon added: “This stadium will be rocking, the TV cameras will be here and our players deserve to be able to go and take part in such a fantastic occasion. We’re really looking forward to it.”
Predicting just who will feature in Chelsea’s starting XI given they played at Old Trafford little more than 48 hours earlier when the Premier League leaders’ team bus pulls up at Oteley Road is no easy task.
It’s been interesting to see on social media that Chelsea captain John Terry and his regular central defensive partner Gary Cahill are among the men to have travelled to Shropshire with the squad, as have Brazilian international trio Oscar, Willian and Filipe Luis.
It’s also perhaps not unrealistic to think that the opposition team sheet could potentially feature Petr Cech, John Obi Mikel, Mohamed Salah and German World Cup winner Andre Schurrle, all substitutes at Old Trafford on Sunday.
What is certain, though, is that whoever Mourinho elects to field, Shrewsbury will be facing a side packed with plenty of quality.
“It’s a tie that the whole town, the whole club should look forward to,” said Town captain Connor Goldson, Saturday’s matchwinner against Portsmouth as Shrewsbury climbed to fourth place in the League Two table.
“The biggest thing is we’ve got a full house supporting us. That’s what we need more often.
“We’ll have the best team in Britain and probably the best manager in the world coming here so it’s just something for us all to look forward to.
“It’s great that our form coming into the game is four wins in a row so we can all just enjoy it, relax and just try and play our football.”
So now an expectant sell-out crowd are ready to head to the Greenhous Meadow for comfortably the biggest cup tie Shrewsbury, already League Cup conquerors of Blackpool, Leicester City and Norwich City this season, have been involved in for many a year.
What an occasion it promises to be as Shrewsbury, with nine wins and a draw from their ten home games this season, aim to achieve what no other club has managed this term by inflicting a sensational knockout blow on Chelsea.
The Greenhous Meadow awaits…