Arsenal fought back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw at North London rivals Tottenham and the advantage in this Carling Cup semi-final.
Arsene Wenger once again fielded his second XI but after initially finding North London rivals Spurs a tougher proposition than the Liverpool side The Gunners dispatched 6-3 in the quarter-final, Arsenal, inspired by Cesc Fabregas, produced a performance every bit as impressive.
Julio Baptista's second half double turned the complexion of the tie after a first half which had left Spurs dreaming of a final meeting with Chelsea.
Martin Jol's side made a superb start - wing whippet Aaron Lennon skipped past Armand Traore and Abou Diaby but Justin Hoyte cleared his dangerous cross.
Dimitar Berbatov was next to fire a shot across The Gunners' bows, the Bulgarian played a give-and-go with Jermain Defoe but after cutting inside his shot struck the outside of the post.
Arsenal were not without their own attacking contribution - Jeremie Aliadiere had slipped in Fabregas but, after rounding Paul Robinson, the angle beat the Spaniard - before Spurs drew first blood in the 12th minute.
The culpable pair of Kolo Toure and Manuel Almunia left Lennon's cross to one another and Berbatov stole in for the simplest of headers from six yards.
Despite the straightforward finish, Berbatov suffered a groin injury in the act of scoring and was replaced by Robbie Keane - the disruption would ultimately hamper Spurs.
Spurs pressed for more - Defoe drew a save from Almunia and were given another helping hand 20 minutes in. Tom Huddlestone's free-kick was dummied by Michael Dawson and Baptista bumbled the ball in at his own near post.
Aliadiere and Hoyte combined excellently but Dawson blocked the right-back's shot and Baptista - Arsenal's four-goal hero in the victory at Anfield - should have reduced the arrears right on half-time but misjudged Fabregas's corner and the danger was cleared.
The second half began in scrappier fashion but if Spurs had bossed the first period, the second was dominated by the visitors.
Where Spurs attacks had been incisive in the first half, they became tentative - Berbatov's replacement Keane proved an ineffective foil for Defoe - and Arsenal grasped the initiative.
Dawson cleared off his own line after Fabregas's free-kick was flicked on, while Fabregas could not generate enough power in a header to beat Robinson after Baptista's deflected free-kick.
The warnings went unheeded by Spurs and Arsenal found a route back into the semi-final in the 64th minute.
A neat touch from the once subdued Theo Walcott, now released by Emmanuel Eboue's introduction on the right-hand side, fed Baptista who got the better of Dawson to shoot home.
And The Gunners struck again 13 minutes from time. Fabregas's ball over the top beat the offside trap, Hoyte raced clear down the right and with Robinson in no-man's land, his cross found Baptista who slid home.
Walcott wasted a glorious chance to claim the winner five minutes from time but Spurs were the ones left mulling over a missed opportunity ahead of the second leg next week.