This is a terrific tie for Northampton, who have reached the third round by knocking out rivals from higher divisions in the shape of Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion having bizarrely drawn their first seven matches of the season, including those two in 90 minutes.
The ‘Special One’ had six chances to win this competition during his two spells in charge of Chelsea and did so three times to give himself a 50% record of lifting the trophy, those successes coming in 2005, 2007 and 2015.
He is clearly an expert at picking teams to get the job done while resting certain players for other commitments, and that ability will come into play again this season as United navigate their way through a Europa League campaign that is also a distraction from the main priority of the Premier League.
It is clear that Mourinho likes to have a settled first XI and the remainder of his squad must content themselves with action in the ‘lesser’ competitions, so we can expect a similar United side to line up at Sixfields to the one that contested last Thursday’s Europa League opener against Feyenoord.
This preview is being written before that game as well as Sunday’s trip to Watford, but what is sure to be a bumper crowd at Northampton can expect to see the likes of Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Morgan Schneiderlin, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young unless anything untoward has happened in the meantime.
Lawson D’Ath of Northampton Town in action during a pre-season friendly match (Getty Images)
But the Cobblers have got properly up and running with home wins against MK Dons and Walsall, which suggests United should not take this tie lightly or they could face a humiliation like the one they suffered against the first-named of those clubs in this competition two years ago.
In their last three meetings with Northampton, the Red Devils have prevailed by an aggregate score of 17-4, the latest of those an FA Cup fourth-round tie on this ground in 2004 which finished 3-0, and no complacency is expected from the favourites with Mourinho in charge.