IT is a task that has flummoxed some of football's greatest minds, yet telling a player that he will not play in a cup final is an unavoidable reality for managers.
Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken about the despair he has felt when, moments before kick-off, he has had to break the news to one of his squad members that they are to miss out on the starting line-up for a showpiece match.
Even the belligerent Scot has admitted to feeling despondent about informing his players of their omission, and some of these conversations have led to a deterioration in relations between the manager and his charges.
The unenviable chore will fall to Michael Laudrup next weekend, when he selects his Swansea City side to face Bradford City in the Capital One Cup final.
Most positions will have been filled in the Dane's mind, but there is one which may require deeper reflection than most.
Chico Flores's near certain absence has left a sizeable void at centre-back, and the battle to take his place looks set to be fought between Kyle Bartley and club captain Garry Monk.
It will be a choice between an emerging talent and the dependable veteran for Laudrup, and his selection for Sunday's Premier League match at Liverpool may hint at how the Swans will line-up at Wembley a week later.
Monk has made eight appearances this season, while Bartley has featured only four times — though it was the latter who came on as a substitute to replace Flores against Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
Both players have impressed whenever they have been called upon and, while Laudrup mulls over his decision, one legendary defender from Swansea's past has called for the inclusion of Monk.
Wyndham Evans made more than 400 appearances for the Swans as they surged through the divisions in the 1970s and 80s, and he would like to see another of the club's defensive stalwarts start at Wembley.
"If it was my choice I would go for Monk," he said.
"I think Monk would do a great job. He's got a lot of experience, he knows the club inside out and it would be lovely for him to get the nod after signing a new contract.
"I would go for Monk but I think Laudrup will go for Bartley."
The choice between Monk and Bartley will depend on the extent to which Laudrup will factor in Bradford's approach when he names his side.
Monk's greater composure on the ball could give him an advantage but, at 6ft 3in, Bartley is three inches taller than the 33-year-old and may be more suited to the Bantams' aerial approach.
"Bartley's a big, strong lad and I think Laudrup might choose him in order to deal with Bradford's direct style," Evans added.
"Bradford's striker James Hanson is a big threat in the air, and Bartley has the physicality to combat that.
"To be fair to Bartley, he has shown so far that he has a great future ahead of him."
Monk did not make his first Premier League appearance of the season until November's 1-1 draw with Chelsea but, since he was given his chance, the Swans' club captain has proven himself to be a more than able deputy.
The former Southampton man signed a new contract this month and Evans believes a starting spot for Monk would be just reward for nine years of excellence, having been at Swansea since they were in the fourth tier.
"It would be great to see him get the chance," he said.
"Initially Laudrup seemed a little reluctant to play Monk but, when he has selected him, Monk hasn't let anyone down.
"Monk knows Ashley Williams very well and has played alongside him a lot, so that might work in his favour.
"Whoever Laudrup goes for, I've got the utmost confidence Swansea will do the job and beat Bradford."