Wembley might seem a long way off, but Pompey got their defence of the Leasing.com Trophy off to a successful start.
Brett Pitman emerged from the bench to net the winner against Crawley midway through the second half at Fratton Park.
He hooked home a corner from the impressive Brandon Haunstrup to ensure the Blues claimed all three points in their opening group stage fixture.
And Joe Gallen was pleased that the hosts were eventually able to make their overall dominance count.
Pompey’s assistant manager said: “It’s always nice to win – and particularly at home. I thought we played pretty well in both halves and were waiting for the goal to come.
“We did get caught on the counter-attack and Crawley perhaps surprised us with their pace, but we were mostly in control.
"Thankfully the opportunity came through Brett from a corner. It was no surprise to me that he came on and scored the winner."
“There were really good positions that we found ourselves in around the final third and just didn’t get our movement right. It was a bit static.
“Thankfully the opportunity came through Brett from a corner. It was no surprise to me that he came on and scored the winner.
“Ellis Harrison had a header excellently saved by their keeper and there were a number of other near-misses.”
Teenage winger Leon Maloney impressed on his Fratton bow, while there was also a welcome start for fit-again full-back James Bolton.
Gallen said: “We played 4-4-2 at the start and Leon was on the right, then the manager changed things a bit and he went out to the left.
“I thought he played very well in both halves and you could see his confidence growing in possession of the ball.
“He looked relaxed and confident, and had some really good runs – it was an impressive home debut.
“It’s a similar thing with James, as his confidence was building as we moved into the second half. He hasn’t played enough football.
“He was able to settle down a bit and make some positive runs forward, although I thought he was tired by the end. That will do him the world of good.”