Said Benrahma gave his Premier League suitors a nudge as Brentford gained some revenge for their play-off final defeat with a 3-0 Carabao Cup victory over Fulham.
Benrahma, the star of Brentford’s promotion bid last season, scored twice as the Bees reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
The Algerian midfielder has been linked with a host of top-flight clubs but, with an anticipated move yet to materialise he was given his first start of this season, and he took his chance in style.
What Brentford would have given for a performance like this two months ago, when they were pipped to promotion by their west London rivals in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.
On this evidence Brentford may well have been the better equipped to make a decent fist of the Premier League.
Defeat meant more misery for Fulham boss Scott Parker, whose side have lost all three matches upon their return to the top flight.
Parker made 10 changes to the side thumped by Aston Villa on Monday and they were inches away from taking a 10th-minute lead when Neeskens Kebano whipped a 25-yard free-kick round the Brentford wall and against the crossbar.
Bees goalkeeper David Raya almost gifted Fulham an opener with a poor clearance but Anthony Knockaert could only find the side-netting.
Instead Brentford went ahead eight minutes before half-time with debutant Saman Ghoddos the architect.
The Iran midfielder took advantage when Jean Michael Seri lost possession, found space down the right and squared the ball for Finnish youngster Marcus Forss to slam home.
Fulham attempted to hit back before the interval but Aboubakar Kamara’s curler was too high.
Parker sent on Ademola Lookman for his debut at the break and the former Everton winger injected some urgency into their attack.
Raya was forced into a fine save to keep out Kebano’s looping effort before Lookman’s cut-back was blazed over the crossbar by Seri.
But Benrahma doubled the lead when he arrived at the far post to convert Ethan Pinnock’s header across goal.
And last season’s star performer killed Fulham off with a stunning turn and shot for what could yet be his final goal in Brentford colours.