Manchester United captain Gary Neville dedicated the Carling Cup win to Alan Smith and acknowledged the importance of victory over Wigan Athletic.
Smith missed the Millennium Stadium showpiece after suffering a horrific injury during last week's FA Cup defeat at Liverpool.
The midfielder will not play again until next season and Neville paid tribute to his stricken team-mate.
"We were devastated last week, not only because we lost, but because of what happened to Alan," Neville told Sky Sports 1.
"It's just sad that he can't be with us today, but it's obviously for him."
The 4-0 crushing of Wigan means United will at least avoid the ignominy of going two consecutive seasons without winning a trophy.
Having gone out of the UEFA Champions League in the group phase, in addition to trailing Chelsea in The Premiership, Neville was aware of the necessity to beat Wigan.
He added: "It was desperately important. We have taken a lot of criticism over the last year-and-a-half and rightly so.
"The expectation levels are so high, and you have to be winning trophies at this club. Hopefully, this will be the start of winning more.
"It is a great moment for us and it is a lot of our lads' first medals. Hopefully, it is the start of something special for us."