There won't be a tougher test this season as United go head-to-head with Championship side Cardiff City on their own patch in the third round of this season's Emirates FA Cup competition.
It's the Bluebirds against the Blues for the first time since March 2001 with the sides now two divisions apart in the Football League pyramid.
City are currently sat in mid-table, but are just three points outside the play-off places in what is a congested battle for a return to the top flight.
A steady run of results through December saw Cardiff consolidate their position as contenders, but there was a shock on New Year's Day when they fell to a 6-1 away defeat at Loftus Road.
New boss Neil Harris will be looking for an immediate response, but he will also know that he has more than enough in a dressing room littered with quality to bounce back.
Joe Ralls and Danny Ward have five goals each and will pose a threat, if selected, and they have been backed up by Robert Glatzel and Lee Tomlin who have four against their names.
Gary Madine is now a Bluebird, and could well make an appearance against the club where it all started for him almost 13 years ago.
There was sad news for the Bluebirds this week when it was announced that former-favourite Chris Barker [pictured here] had passed away at the tender age of 39. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and with everyone at the club at this very sad time.
From Chris Beech ...
Speaking ahead of the game manager Chris Beech said: "This will be a brilliant challenge for us. They’re powerful athletes, dynamic, quick, and you're talking about players who play at the next level.
"Those boys are very, very quick. They do things sharp, at pace, and they run and pass, so it's going to be a really tough challenge. We worked so hard to get a game like this for the football club, we have to enjoy and embrace the challenge.
"I was lucky enough to be involved in things like this and to benefit from them as a player. I scored a couple of goals against Derby for Huddersfield in the FA Cup fifth round. In Paul Simpson’s squad at Rochdale we got to the fifth round. At Rochdale as a coach it took Tottenham one-and-a-half games to break us down.
"There’s opportunities for players within these games and I’m looking forward to it. I know the players will be preapred properly, so we can go there feeling confident that we will represent our club well."
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Head to Head
It was March 2001 and Division 3 when United last played in Cardiff, and the 4-1 home victory continued a trend reaching all the way back to 1966 which has seen the Cumbrians fail to pick up a victory at the nest of the Bluebirds.
|Carlisle wins||Draws||Cardiff wins|
Man in the middle
Our referee for this fixture is Mr Geoff Eltringham.
Geoff has taken charge of 16 games so far this season showing 64 yellow cards and two reds.
It's just under four years since we last had the Durham-based Championship level match official in charge of one of our games - that was a 2-0 home win over Accrington courtesy of goals from Alex Gilliead and Charlie Wyke. Defender Mark Ellis was the only Carlisle name taken on the day.
Referee - Geoff Eltringham
Assistant Referee 1 - Mark Pottage
Assistant Referee 2 - Simon Shaw
Fourth Official - Savvas Yianni
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