STOKE CITY'S hopes of a first date at the new Wembley Stadium were ended at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon after slipping to a 2-0 defeat against Chelsea in the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup.
Against the same team, in the same month, just 38 years on, the Potters were unable to repeat the heroics of the stars of '72' who had against the odds shocked the Blues in the League Cup Final.
Hopes of a similar outcome were sparked after disposing of both Arsenal and Manchester City in previous rounds while they could have been further ignited had Dean Whitehead not seen his early strike cleared off the line by Brazilian defender Alex.
However, despite making a bright start, the Potters were deflated when Frank Lampard flashed an effort into the back of the net with the game finely poised midway through the first half, before John Terry rounded things off with a well taken header in the second period.
Ahead of the game, Tony Pulis signalled his intentions by handing starts to all three frontmen Ricardo Fuller, Tuncay and Mamady Sidibe, while he also named the more attack minded Glenn Whelan at the heart of midfield. In defence, Ryan Shawcross' suspension paved the way for Danny Collins' return. He lined up on the left alongside Abdoulaye Faye, skipper for the day Robert Huth and Andy Wilkinson.
Rory Delap's first long throw-in of the afternoon almost led to the first goal of the game after just five minutes. His missile into the Chelsea penalty area was glanced goalwards by former Chelsea man Huth, which was met by Sidibe, however, he nodded the ball just over from four-yards.
An entertaining start to the game continued as Chelsea burst forward with a classic counter-attack, but after leaving two defenders in his wake Nicholas Anelka saw his effort well saved down at his near post by Thomas Sorensen.
Jamaican international Fuller then linked up brilliantly with Sidibe at the other end, only for the Malian to see Terry superbly block his goal-bound effort from close range.
The hosts were being forced to defend for their lives as City continued to push forward, and only a goal-line clearance from Alex denied Whitehead, who volleyed a sublime effort past Henrique Hilario from 15-yards.
Chelsea should have been ahead on the half hour mark when French international Anelka nicked the ball off an unaware Whitehead, took one touch and drove the ball across the face of goal, narrowly evading the likes of Drogba and Frank Lampard.
Ivory Coast star Drogba then missed the target from 30-yards, before Tuncay took one touch too many at the other end when, had he showed a little more quality, he would have had a clear sight of goal.
The Potters were made to pay for their lack of cutting edge in the visitors' penalty area in the 35th minute as Lampard clinically fired the hosts ahead from 20-yards, after City had failed to clear their lines from Malouda's corner.
The England international then again went close moments later with a similar effort which Sorensen saved well, with Drogba ready to pounce on any slip-up.
The Dane was at it again in first half stoppage time as Drogba forced him into a superb reflex save at his near post after latching on to Florent Malouda's teasing ball into the danger zone.
The second half continued in pretty much the same way as the first ended with Chelsea asking the majority of the questions.
In fact, they could have doubled their advantage just three minutes in when Lampard ghosted into the penalty area to meet Malouda's clever lay off, but he smashed the ball well over the bar.
Huth then wasted a free-kick for Stoke 20-yards out by slicing it horribly wide, while Drogba forced Sorensen into a smart save with an effort from a similar position at the other end just a minute later. Anelka was next to try his luck with an ambitious effort from range which flew high into the 'Shed End'.
Pulis made a double substitution on the hour mark in an effort to reinvigorate his side as both Tuncay and Sidibe were replaced by David Kitson and Republic of Ireland international Liam Lawrence. Their arrivals sparked fresh life into the visitors and it was Kitson's acute through ball which earned the Potters a corner, which Huth headed just over the bar.
Sorensen and Wilkinson then combined brilliantly to deny Lampard at the backpost, but disaster struck from the resulting corner as Terry rose highest to power home fellow England star Lampard's deep corner to all but book Chelsea's spot in the last four.
The rest of the game was a formality in all honesty. Man-of-the-match Lampard forced Sorensen into a superb save from 25-yards, while Abdoulaye Faye went the closest to getting the Potters back into the game with a two headers within the space of a few minutes.
His first looped onto the roof of the net after Lawrence picked him out, whilst he will have been disappointing not to have done better with his second after rising unchallenged to head Delap's long throw over from five-yards.
Anelka again missed the target late on after being played through by Malouda, whilst Fuller almost grabbed a consolation strike right at the death with a superb piece of trickery, followed by a strike which Hilario superbly saved down to his left.
Two minutes of added time were signalled by the fourth official at the end of the original 90, but Chelsea stood firm to secure their spot at Wembley and agonisingly end the hopes of City and the superb 3,000 travelling supporters who showed their appreciation for the players efforts at the final whistle.