BY THEIR own admission, South Molton reserves have been the whipping boys of the North Devon League in recent seasons.
But cup football gives rise to optimism, even for a struggling side.
For South Molton and Lynton and Lynmouth reserves, the North Devon Journal Cup first round was an opportunity to take that initial step towards success.
Perhaps not the road to Wembley but maybe a map to Mill Road, Marshford or Marlborough Park.
The build-up to Saturday's game had brought the usual headaches for managers at grassroots level. Rather than: "What team shall I select?", the big question was: "Will I have enough players to field a side?"
Steve Seatherton, the South Molton chairman and second-team assistant manager, summed up the perils of trying to organise a local side.
"I love football but as soon as you take on responsibilities and managing teams, it's like herding cats," he said.
Alex Spice, the Lynton manager and secretary, knew what he meant. Spice was without four regulars who were cup tied after helping the first team in the Combe Martin Cup last week.
"It's going to be a bit of a veterans' match," he said after calling up former players Paul Smyth and Paul Leworthy. They probably haven't played for Lynton for at least 10 years."
Since rejoining last season, Lynton reserves have been the nearly men in Intermediate Two. On 11 occasions last term they lost matches by a single goal.
But a young team has improved and been boosted by the experience of Matt Bufton at the back. Bufton was voted North Devon's best referee last season and has decided to put his whistling on hold while he still has the chance to play.
As Spice predicted, it turned out to be a match for the veterans but not in the way he was hoping.
Thanks to 57-year-old super-sub Jeff Henry it would be South Molton's day.
Since returning from travelling, the goals of Ashley Short have made a difference for the Images. The striker put his team ahead from a right-wing cross by Nathan Slee.
Lynton equalised against the run of play before Short pounced on a defensive error to restore the advantage with his seventh of the season.
Then came the introduction of Henry who showed age is no barrier with two goals to settle the tie with a 4-1 win.
He was slightly fortuitous with the first after charging down an attempted clearance and seeing the ball go in.
The second was a quality finish on the half volley after watching the ball over his shoulder.
"If it was on Match Of The Day you would have watched it two or three times," said Seatherton.
Spice, who has been out injured this season, is still trying to teach his younger players about the finer arts of defending.
"I've got 16-year-olds out there and you tell them to cover and they don't actually know what you mean," he said. "They just nod."
As well as Henry, Seatherton credits two other experienced players for making South Molton more competitive this year.
Fred Short has returned in midfield and Steve Evans has been a calming influence at the back.
Playing alongside his dad in defence, left back Ben Evans was South Molton's man of the match, ensuring there was a comfortable debut in goal for Sam Smith.
"South Molton reserves have been the whipping boys for the last three seasons really," said Seatherton.
"Last season nobody was surprised if we got beaten eight, ten or eleven-nil. Even in the past, if we have lost 12-0 as long as lads are enjoying it and turning up to training, that's fine.
"This year we are looking to be in matches and competing.
"If we can get through the first couple of rounds, then anything can happen in a semi-final or final."
The next cup challenge for them is the small matter of a local derby at home to North Molton in the quarter-final on November 16.