While there are 72 places between them and Manchester City in the league pyramid, that only tells half the story. The competitive, infrastructural and financial chasm between the two clubs is immeasurably vast.
Then again, one of the enduring joys of the FA Cup is that it occasionally throws up a result which defies all logic. The odds might be stacked in City’s favour in every conceivable way, but Cheltenham can live in hope.
City may be in for a bit of a culture shock at Whaddon Road, which isn’t quite as glossy as the average Premier League ground. “They’ll be getting changed in a bar,” confirmed Robins boss Michael Duff before the game.
“We’ll make it as hospitable as we can and the one thing they will like is the pitch. You are not going to get a Ronnie Radford scene where it’s a ploughed field.
“They will be able to play on it – we won’t be training on it to make it as bad as possible. We do pride ourselves on playing good football, we are not going to ruin the pitch for this one-off.”
Asked about City’s changing room arrangements in his pre-match press conference, Pep Guardiola saw the funny side. “Please, I only ask Cheltenham: do not leave beers in the bar before the game,” he laughed.
“We will be delighted to change in the bar, but no alcohol there because we want to win the game and be in perfect condition.”
Despite the huge gulf between the two clubs, Guardiola insisted that City won’t be fazed by their surroundings. “Everyone comes from the lower divisions, or do you believe when we are under-16 or under-18 we fly in private jets?” he said.
“We play in these stadiums all our careers, we don’t play in big stadiums all the time, we came from [clubs like] Cheltenham. People cannot forget that and it is a pleasure to play there.
“We were lucky to have success in our profession and go up the divisions, but we were there many times and we changed in bars as boys and we play football with incredible joy.
“We love this game and we change in these changing rooms for most of our careers, most of the time.”