Christmas and New Year celebrations are over. We've arrived at the first weekend in January and that means only one thing - the FA Cup Third Round.

Are you excited? Well, I suppose that depends on your age. There was a time when the coming together of the minnows and the big guns really caught the imagination - a defining point in the football season. It's just not quite the same today.

Okay, this weekend's Merseyside Derby will no doubt generate much interest, as will the prospect of West Ham slipping up away to Shrewsbry and Jamie Vardy returning to face his club Fleetwood Town.

And while the phrase "it's a great leveller" will no doubt be uttered after any upset this weekend, the FA Cup shock value just doesn't register that high anymore.

In 2015, which team knocked Chelsea out at the Fourth Round stage? Can you answer it within five seconds?

The answer is Bradford City - 4-2 winners at Stamford Bridge.

Back in the day

More seismic on the shock register was non-league Hereford, courtesy of a wonder strike from Ronnie Radford, defeating Newcastle in a Round 4 replay from 1972.

A year later, the heroics of Sunderland goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery stood out as the Wearsiders upset the then mighty Leeds United in the Wembley decider. 

In the 1980s, Coventry, then in the top flight were toppled at the first hurdle by non-league Sutton. Arsenal were also to suffer an early embarrassment when Wrexham, then three tiers below them in the pecking order, stunned them late on at the Racecourse Ground.

Micky Thomas, then in his 38th year, scored the winner for the Welsh side. The year was 1992 - they year that the Premier League was born and the European Cup became the Champions League. Change was in the air and in time the FA Cup would lose some of its lustre. 

Many will point to Manchester United, then Cup holders, sidestepping their defence in favour of the Club World Cup in 2000 as the start of its demise. That choice, by the way, was forced on the Old Trafford outfit.

In truth, the Cup's appeal was waning even before the turn of the millennium and that despite Ryan Giggs' brilliant individual goal that secured victory for Manchester United against Arsenal in the 1999 semi-final replay.

It's golden period, no doubt helped by television coverage and the wall-to-wall coverage of Cup final day on both the BBC and ITV, was undoubtedly from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Blackpool legend Stanley Matthews receiving his winner's medal in 1953

The 'Matthews final' in 1953; Manchester City's German goalkeeper Bert Trautmann playing on with a broken neck in 1957 decider; Tottenham winning the Cup in 1961 and so becoming the first team to complete the 'double'; Alan Sunderland scoring the winner for Arsenal in a dramatic conclusion to the 1979 final and Ricky Villa's trickery in securing the trophy for Tottenham in 1981, were just some of the many standout moments from Cup final day in what now was football from a different era.

It's a different playing field now

While non-league participants still crave for FA Cup progression, the riches from television revenue means that those in the leagues above them place greater priority in where they finish at season's end. For those at the top end of the Premier League, Champions League participation is the much sought after prize.

In terms of cash, each of the 32 winners in this third round will receive £67,000. This year's FA Cup winner will be better off to the tune of £3.5million. Loose change, and not just for the Premier League clubs. Qualifying for the Champions League is worth £11million - and that's before a ball is kicked. 

Over the course of this weekend, many of the clubs, and not just in the top flight, will make wholesale changes to their respective line-ups. Attendances will suffer. This has been the case for a few seasons now.

Wigan celebrate their unlikely triumph in 2013

You would think that mid-ranking teams in the Premier League, free from a relegation dogfight, would give the FA Cup greater attention. A look at the winners from 1989 is telling, with Portsmouth (2008) and Wigan (2013) the only 'unfancied' sides to claim the glory in that period.

The Football Association have tried to spice things up by switching both semi-finals to Wembley, moving the kick-off time of the final to 5.30pm and scrapping quarter-final replays. The latter is not a bad idea, but I don't think you'll have too many agreeing with the first two.  

In 2018, Cup final day will also be vying with a Royal Wedding for the public's attention.

Yes, much talk is made, mainly by pundits in tv studios about the romance and the magic of the FA Cup.

In truth, such talk is a little hollow now even if the old competition can still produce that little sprinkling of romance and magic.