HARTLEPOOL United will face Championship or League One opponents in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
Colin Cooper’s men are not among the seeds for the northern half of the draw, which takes place on Monday morning.
That means they will have to overcome a side from a higher division if they are to make it beyond the opening round for the first time since 2010.
Indeed, Pools have exited at the first stage of all three cup competitions – FA Cup, League Cup and Football League Trophy – in the past two seasons, reducing revenue streams in the process.
Last year’s Capital One defeat came on the opening day of the campaign, a 5-0 mauling at Crewe Alexandra setting the tone for what proved a disastrous season.
Included in those clubs Pools could draw are North-East neighbours Middlesbrough.
They are one of 11 Championship teams among the 18 seeds.
Pools’ opponents will come from; Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Crewe Alexandra, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Tranmere Rovers, Walsall and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ties will be played the week commencing August 5.