IT WAS the tournament that brought us the three-minute goalkeeping change.

It also brought us the postponement seven minutes before kick-off.

And all of it played out in front of swathes of empty seats.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Checkatrade Trophy is back for another year.

The competition shunned by the vast majority of fans actually got some of its biggest exposure thanks to the Bantams.

The decision to haul off Colin Doyle before he had touched the ball against Bury to fit in with the selection regulations drew attention across Europe.

It also got City a rap on the knuckles for not embracing the 'spirit' of the trophy.

Stuart McCall's side went on to make the last eight before losing in a rearranged quarter-final at Oxford. The less said about the farcical decision to wait so long to admit defeat on a frozen pitch the week earlier the better.

City's cup run earned them £80,000 in prize money – which is not to be sniffed at – but scant interest from the public.

The three home games were played in front of the lowest Valley Parade audiences for over 20 years, since 1,287 watched a game against Carlisle in the Associate Members Cup – the trophy's original version.

The opener against Stoke's Premier League academy side a year ago was witnessed by only 1,444 people. Bury drew 400 more but the second-round clash with Cambridge in early December lowered the bar to 1,360.

But that was still 500 more than watched the group defeat at Morecambe.

Yet that 1-0 win over Stoke which kicked off City's run was memorable for one player.

It did mark Timothee Dieng's first goal for the club after his summer switch from Oldham.

The Frenchman, one of the few experienced players on the pitch, headed home Reece Webb-Foster's free-kick – the first of four appearances on the scoresheet last season.

But it is not the goal that sticks so much in his mind 12 months on as the celebration.

Dieng, who misses tonight's clash with a calf tear, smiled: "I remember sliding on my knees after I scored and looking up – and there was nobody there in the stand!

"The lads had a laugh but I made up my mind that I just wanted to do it, even though I knew it was empty.

"It was a bit strange that night because there was no atmosphere. But it was a big moment for me.

"It was my first goal for the club and it was the winner as well, so I was very pleased with it."

Dieng started five out of City's six ties, missing out the dead rubber against Morecambe like most of his senior team-mates, and admitted the competition did grow on him.

"Every game got more important because it is a cup and at the end there is a game at Wembley," he said.

"If we win, there is also money for the club.

"At the beginning, nobody really took it very seriously but the more we progressed, the more important the games became.

"We got knocked out in the last eight, so we did well."

City's eventual conquerors Oxford made it to Wembley for the second successive year – and lost again. Coventry enjoyed a brief respite from relegation to the bottom tier by lifting the trophy.

For all its shortcomings, the one plus point is that it offers a realistic route to a cup final for lower-league sides. They can't all 'do a Bradford City' in the more established knock-out competitions.

Dieng certainly believes the Bantams should be capable of making serious inroads again as they kick off their campaign at Chesterfield tonight.

"We have to play Chesterfield, Manchester City and Rotherham first but hopefully this year we can go far," he said.

"Playing Man City under-21s is going to be different to a League One game. They will try to play short passes and be more technical players.

"But there are just teams from League One and League Two in it as well as the under-21s, so I think we have the quality to win this cup. But it is a long way to go."

Dieng, who has made a positive start to the season despite his injury, hopes to weigh in with another goal or two to help them further down the line.

"It's important because, as the gaffer said last year, he expected more goals from the midfielders," he said.

"I will try to score more this year. Last season I got four, three in the league, and want to do better this season.

"I think I'm good in the air, I can finish in the box as well, so every game I am looking to score and get in the box as often as I can."

He also won't mind if there are few there to see it.