The Big boys?
Alex McLeish failed to save the Blues` from relegation last season but he will be confident his side can bounce straight back up.
They will have to do it without the services of striker Mikael Forsell who has left to join Hannover 96 in Germany. But Lee Carsley has joined Birmingham from Everton to bolster the midfield.
City will look to Cameron Jerome to score the goals to mount a promotion push, of which they are surely capable of.
The last time Pool played Birmingham was back in September 2003 in the League Cup when, at the time, City were top of the Premier League, and Pool in League One. But on the night the home team triumphed courtesy of a Scott Taylor strike.
Pool don`t have happy memories of their last trip to the midlands. A 7-1 thrashing in December 1994 will need to be rectified this season!
Steve Coppell chose to stay with the Royals despite relegation and will be looking to keep most of his squad for an assault on promotion this term.
Keeping Leroy Lita, Kevin Doyle, Dave Kitson and Stephen Hunt will be top of Coppell`s priorities, and if he manages it, Reading will possess a formidable attacking line up.
Pool have a pretty awful recent record against Reading. Back in 2001/02 both sides were in League One and Reading won both games scoring five goals in total and conceding none.
Blackpool last beat Reading in 1999 thanks to a 2-0 home success.
Derby fans will want to quickly forget about last season. They won just once in the Premier League and finished bottom of the table with 11 points and a goal difference of minus 69.
Paul Jewell, who took over from Billy Davies in November, has yet to win a game as Derby manager. He will be desperate to change that statistic quickly and he will be wary of a hangover from last season when Derby were the whipping boys of the Premier League.
Jewell has added to his squad with the signings of Watford pair Nathan Ellington and Jordan Stewart and former Nottingham Forest midfielder Kris Commons. Meanwhile Rob Earnshaw has moved to Forest.
County last met Blackpool in the League Cup last August at Pride Park. A Kaspars Gorkss double ensured the game went to penalties with Pool winning 7-6 on the night.
The last time the two sides met in the league was back in the 1985/86 season. In the old third division Blackpool won 2-1 at Derby but lost the reverse fixture 1-0.