Whisper it quietly in the red half of Manchester, but the omens are looking good for City to complete a Carling Cup semi-final victory over United at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening and so reach their first major Wembley Final since 1981.

The visitors will start the match with a 2-1 lead from last week's first leg of the tie against their neighbours, who they beat on the way to each of their previous League Cup triumphs - in 1970 and 1976.

Add into the mix that this year's Final is on exactly the same date, 28 February, of the corresponding 1976 Final - in which they beat Newcastle United to lift their last piece of silverware - and the runes are pointing to a City success at Old Trafford.

More importantly, the form book also suggests that Roberto Mancini's team may come out on top - they have won seven of their last eight matches while United have collected only five victories from their last 10 outings.

And more importantly still, Mancini's men are brimming with confidence while their recently appointed Italian manager is urging them to not only win the semi-final on aggregate but also to do so with a bragging-rights victory at Old Trafford.

On the brink of an historical moment for the club only five weeks after being appointed Manager, Mancini said: "After many years without a trophy we want to get to the final, and we have a good chance.

"The players are excited because they have a chance to change the history of the club, which is the most important thing. It is important to get to the final, but we don't want to go to Old Trafford only to defend.

"It is possible we will have to defend, and if we need to then we will have to defend very well because they have so many good players. But we want to win, not just the tie, but at Old Trafford - and to do that we must attack!"

What is always a tasty local derby will perhaps have an added edge following the first leg's widely chronicled spat between former United striker Carlos Tevez, who hit both of City's goals, and his ex-team mate Gary Neville.

Mancini has called for a calm approach from his team while his opposite number Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side are the holders and are chasing their fourth League Cup triumph, says he expects "no issues" with the behaviour of his players.

Ferguson may, however, be without Rio Ferdinand for the game after the central defender was charged with violent conduct following an incident in United's 4-0 Premier League win against Hull City on Saturday.

If Ferdinand misses the game then United could be set for a double-whammy as City could have Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor back in their squad on his return from compassionate leave after the gun attack on his team bus at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mancini said: "I spoke with Emmanuel on Monday. He is back in training and I think he will be ready to be on the bench." United came back from a semi-final first leg defeat by Derby County to reach last year's Carling Cup Final. Can they do it again?

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