GARY Rowett is expecting another tough battle against Fleetwood Town tomorrow as Burton Albion prepare to face the Lancashire side for the fourth time this season.
The Brewers beat the Cod Army 3-2 away in August before drawing them in the FA Cup second round.
Following a 1-1 draw at Highbury Stadium, Albion won the replay 1-0 at the Pirelli Stadium.
Rowett is ready for another difficult encounter against Graham Alexander’s men, who will be gunning for some revenge over Burton, kick-off 3pm.
“I’m not stupid enough to think because we beat them twice this season we’re going to automatically go out there and do it again,” said the Albion boss.
“It won’t be anything other than an exceptionally tough game, like most games in League Two.
“Graham has done a terrific job there and has got some very good players, players of both experience and quality.
“It’s another game where we will be tested in different ways.”
Fleetwood play an unusual formation with three central midfielders and a man off the front two, one of whom is former Premier League striker Jon Parkin.
They are just one of the many sides in League Two who are abandoning the traditional 4-4-2 formation in search of something new.
“The last three or four games we’ve played against a variety of formations,” said Rowett. “We faced a 5-3-2, then a diamond in the middle and then a 5-2-3.
“Every week seems to throw up a different tactical quandary.
“The old 4-4-2 for some people is dead.
“League Two used to be full of teams playing 4-4-2.
“We have to think about things differently.
“You have to tweak your formation slightly.”
Rowett himself was part of the Derby County side which went for an unorthodox formation in the 1995/96 promotion season under Jim Smith.
The Rams then used three centre-halves, with Derby legend Igor Stimac operating as a third central defender.
“I think at Derby the real reason we played it was because we signed Igor Stimac, played him in a four and learned he couldn’t mark!” joked the Albion boss.
“We ended up playing with two centre-halves and Igor as a sweeper and, obviously, he was a revelation as we all know.
“I think now managers are getting braver and willing to try different things - that’s about it really.
“Four-four-two can be seen as a bit rigid, but I think there are different ways of playing the same formation.
“Certainly I think it makes it a more challenging league in terms of what we’re up against.”
Burton are only missing defender Shane Cansdell-Sherriff (cheekbone) and striker Michael Symes (knee) tomorrow.
However, there are slight doubts around several players in the squad with knocks and illness.
“We’ve got a few who have picked up little knocks,” said Rowett. “Adam McGurk has been ill during the week.
“Chris Hussey and Adam Buxton have knocks.
“We’ve come to the first week where we’re probably a bit short of what we want.
“Three players have left the club over recent weeks (Rory Delap, Adam Reed and Rene Howe).
“With a few injuries it just increases the need to bring in a few fresh faces.”