Last updated : 03 January 2006 By Ed

It is just possible that the Manchester United team that starts against Burton Albion in the FA Cup third round on Sunday will be different from the one that Sir Alex Ferguson brought with him to mark the opening of the Brewers' splendid Pirelli Stadium in November.

Back then Giuseppe Rossi and David Bardsley were the only United players with whom the Burton fans were remotely familiar, Burton won 2-1 and, with Sir Alex at his relaxed and charming best, all was sweetness and light. His reaction if that result were to be repeated on Sunday might be less sanguine but, according to Burton's chairman Ben Robinson, United will be rather better prepared.

They've watched us at least five times already and they took a video of our game on Boxing Day," said Robinson with a grin. "Mind you, we've watched them four times." Pause for effect. "On television."

Robinson has not stopped grinning since Burton beat Burscough in the second round. Estimates of the tie's value to the Staffordshire club vary, with Robinson's £300,000 likely to be on the conservative side. All 6,068 tickets have long since been sold, and what with executive boxes, souvenir T-shirts - many already being sported by home supporters in the Bovril Stand - and the £150,000 live television fee, the £500,000 figure being bandied around the press bench may be nearer the mark.

With yesterday's visitors in the Conference, Tamworth, playing a derby at Stoke City and Nuneaton Borough hosting Middlesbrough, it will be a pretty big weekend for "our little triangle", as Burton's manager Nigel Clough put it.

When he took over at the club in 1998 you would have got long odds against Brian's lad going on to become the longest serving manager in Burton's history, but he has always had football in perspective and remains perfectly content with a job which allows him time to pick the children up from school while fashioning a team in his own passing image.

If everybody is fit he will not be on the bench against United. "We'll just give it everything but, given most teams in the Premiership can't get near them, how can anyone expect a part-time Conference team to do it?" he said after the game. "I mean, how do you stop Wayne Rooney? The best coaches in the world will be thinking about that in a few months' time, let alone me.

"Most of these lads work so we'll train Tuesday and Thursday as usual, and we won't do that much on the Tuesday. You saw today both teams looked tired in the first half; if it's tough for professionals to play four games in eight days, imagine what it's like for part-timers. The pitch is frustrating but at least we're used to it. They'll have more possession than us so it might just help for once."

A miracle result, Clough said with a smile, would be a draw and a lucrative replay at Old Trafford. "But if I'm honest I just hope we don't get thrashed. It'll be a fantastic occasion, the sort that people here will talk about having been there in 30 or 40 years. It would be great to give them something they can be proud to remember."