Ralph Hasenhuttl should have been left in no doubt as to just how important next Tuesday night is for Saints. He must, therefore, make that his main priority for the upcoming week-and-a-half.

So often down the years we have seen Saints managers take cup competitions lightly, even choosing to focus on the Premier League when there was seemingly not much to play for.

But whether Hasenhuttl wishes to really pursue Carabao Cup glory or not this season, the derby against Portsmouth at Fratton Park is a match that has such significance that it trumps any Premier League fixture.

A quick glance at the schedule shows that Hasenhuttl does have a handy advantage. Playing Bournemouth tomorrow night in a derby warm-up rather than Saturday means that the Saints boss can field his strongest side for both of those games.

A Friday-Tuesday combination is no problem for footballers. That is plenty enough rest for the first team to play twice.

It becomes more of an issue when you take a third match into account. For Saints that will be the trip to face Tottenham a week on Saturday.

It has become the norm that Premier League managers would field the weakened side, or, as they might more generously put it, the rotated team, in the midweek slot.

That cannot be the case for Hasenhuttl.

Thanks to Sky picking the Bournemouth match and moving it to Friday, Hasenhuttl can go strong for the Cherries, and stick with it for Portsmouth.

He then has the luxury of the chance to assess who can play again at Tottenham and who cannot.

But what he must not do is rotate for Portsmouth to keep players fresh for Tottenham.

You have to be honest and look at the matches on paper and say that Bournemouth at home is a better chance for a win than Tottenham away.

Hasenhuttl could play a fully fresh and firing first team at Tottenham, they could play really well, and they would more likely than not still lose. Most teams will be beaten at Tottenham this season. Therefore, that is the game which has to be the one that suffers if any has to In the modern game we hear so much about priorities. Hasenhuttl needs to be clear what the number one priority is.

And if he has any doubt he can ask any Saints fan – ‘beat Portsmouth and lose at Tottenham or lose to Portsmouth and beat Tottenham?’ The response is likely to be that it wouldn’t matter if Saints lost 12-0 to Tottenham as long as they beat Portsmouth.

As for the team he picks, Hasenhuttl has to go with the warriors, those who will be up for the battle.

Any veteran of derby matches at Fratton Park will tell you that the atmosphere will be hostile, the conditions will be unwelcoming and the underdogs, in this case the League One side playing at home, will turn it into a scrap.

Add into it the intensity of an evening game under the floodlights and you have all the ingredients for a tough night.

To win Saints will require character, spirit and resilience. If they match Pompey in those areas then their extra quality should shine through.

But if there are any passengers in the team, any delicate flowers who are used to life in the Premier League bubble and don’t fancy it much, then Saints could come unstuck.

Away from the pitch we must all hope for peace.

Though this fixture is drenched in vitriol, heightened still further by the fact the teams so rarely meet, this is the south coast footballing world on display.

A fiery game, a lively atmosphere and a desire to win are great. They make derby days special. Anything more than that away from the pitch is horrible and only sullies the reputation of both clubs.

The result may play a part, and you can sense a few nerves amongst Saints fans on that front.

Fair enough, anything important can cause anxiety, but the chance to beat Portsmouth for the first time since 2005 and win at Fratton Park for the first time since 1984 is very real.

Saints are rightly heavy favourites for the game and need to justify why.

Hasenhuttl must ensure he gives this fixture number one billing to give them the best chance of doing so.