Chelsea, London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham and Liverpool all made it into the last eight of the English League Cup on Wednesday, avoiding the fate of Manchester United in their fourth round clashes.
A day after United crashed out at the hands of Championship outfit Southend, Chelsea established themselves as firm favorites for the trophy with a 4-0 win over Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.
It was not so easy for Arsenal, who had to wait until five minutes from time before Emmanuel Adebayor struck the winner against ten-man Everton, or Tottenham, who needed extra-time before overcoming Port Vale 3-1.
Liverpool were always in control of their match against Birmingham, which was sealed by Danish defender Daniel Agger's goal in first-half stoppage time.
Chelsea bounced back impressively from Sunday's defeat at Tottenham, thanks to a superb display from stand-in skipper Frank Lampard.
The England midfielder headed the opener in the 32nd minute and laid on the second for Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko in the 65th, who was making his return to the side after four games out.
Ghana midfielder Michael Essien made it 3-0 in the 82nd minute before Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba completed the rout two minutes later.
Referee Graham Poll was in the headlines again after sending off Everton's James McFadden after 18 minutes, apparently for a remark the Scotland international made to him after the official had turned down the home side's appeals for a penalty over a challenge on striker Andy Johnson.
Poll, who has been attacked for his handling of Chelsea's defeat on Sunday, had no hesitation about brandishing the red card.
But despite his action Everton stayed in the contest until five minutes from the end, when Adebayor rose to head home Mathieu Flamini's corner.
Birmingham regained a measure of self-respect against Liverpool, who had beaten them 7-0 in an FA Cup clash last season, but still bowed out of this competition.
Agger's strike proved decisive, the defender lashing the ball into the roof of the net after Birmingham had failed to deal with a corner from Jermaine Pennant, who spent a season on loan at the club before moving from Arsenal to Liverpool on a permanent basis this summer.
Liverpool went on to carve out enough chances to have won at a canter with Craig Bellamy, who had a second half penalty saved by Maik Taylor, particularly profligate.
Despite the win, it was a tough night for Liverpool with key midfielder Mohammed Sissoko stretchered off midway through the first half with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder.
Defender Tom Huddlestone scored twice for Spurs, including a precious equalizer 10 minutes from the end of regulation time after Leon Constantine had given Port Vale the lead.
A deflected long-range shot from Huddlestone in the first half of extra time gave Spurs the edge and England forward Jermain Defoe made sure of the outcome, finally finding the net after squandering a string of earlier chances.