Arsene Wenger enjoyed a night to savour as another generation of young stars stepped off the Arsenal production line to inflict a 6-0 drubbing on an experienced Sheffield United side on Tuesday.
The youngest starting line-up ever sent out by the club - with an average age of just 19 - put the Blades to the sword with a pass-and-move masterclass that resulted in an embarrassingly one-sided League Cup 3rd round tie in which Mexican teenager Carlos Alberto Vela claimed a hat-trick.
Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, who scored both of Arsenal's first two goals, may be on the fringes of Wenger's first-team squad.
But this was proof that the Gunners' reserves of youthful talent run deep with Alberto Vela's hat-trick sandwiched around a 25-yard strike from 16-year-old Jack Wilshere.
Ronaldo back for United
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his first start for Manchester United since the UEFA Champions League final with a goal as Sir Alex Ferguson's side beat ten-man Middlesbrough 3-1 at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo began his quest to match last season's 42-goal tally by heading in a Ryan Giggs corner midway through the first half.
His effort was cancelled out by Adam Johnson's volley early in the second half but Ryan Giggs restored the home side's lead after Middlesbrough had been reduced to ten men following the straight red card issued to Emmanuel Pogatetz for a horrendous challenge on Brazilian teenager Rodrigo Possebon.
Ronaldo's compatriot Nani completed an ultimately comfortable win with United's third at the death.
Liverpool took a leaf out of Arsenal's book by naming a second-string side for their Anfield clash with League One's Crewe. But they could not match the Gunners in terms of quality as they laboured to a 2-1 win.
Danish centreback Daniel Agger hammered in a 15th-minute freekick to get Liverpool off to a positive start. But Crewe claimed a deserved equaliser through Michael O'Connor ten minutes later and Liverpool struggled to break down the visitors until Brazilian Leiva Lucas restored the lead with a close-range header.
Fulham go down
Championship side Burnley pulled off the biggest upset of the night when they knocked out the Premier League's Fulham, courtesy of an 88th-minute strike from 19-year-old local boy Jay Rodriguez.
Watford also claimed a Premier League scalp with an own goal by Hadyn Mullins condemning West Ham to their first defeat under new manager Gianfranco Zola.
Elsewhere, Swansea emerged victorious from their south Wales derby clash with Cardiff, courtesy of Jordi Gomez's goal. Sunderland needed two late goals from Anthony Stokes to force their clash with Northampton into extra-time.
Premiership newcomers Stoke were also playing extra-time after twice being pegged back by Reading.