The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – much maligned, regularly mocked and blighted by poor attendances.
But try telling those who did turn up at Fratton Park last night it doesn’t matter.
Pensioners jigging in the stands, the Fratton end chanting about Wembley, players mobbing each other in unbridled glee.
Whisper it softly, apparently last night’s result also heaps the pressure on Cherries boss Paul Groves.
Fratton Park rocked to the rafters – an attendance of 5,979 comfortably replicating a full house.
Everyone loves a penalty shootout, particularly when your team wins.
Even if it is the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Rival supporters may sneer but the smiles were back on the faces of Blues supporters following their spot-kick triumph.
For Appleton, it also represented victory and hopefully the catalyst to improved league fortunes.
He had watched his side twice fall behind to an impressive Bournemouth outfit in an often blistering contest – especially during a breathtaking second half.
Yet the home troops fought their way back on each occasion with well-worked goals.
Firstly it was Luke Rodgers, who slid in Mustapha Dumbuya’s right-wing cross on the stroke of half-time to cancel out Shaun Macdonald’s fifth-minute header.
Cherries midfielder Macdonald then rocketed one in from outside the box in the 59th minute to regain the visitors’ lead.
But Brian Howard curled a delightful left-foot effort from 20 yards to level eight minutes later.
It remained level pegging until the final whistle, prompting a penalty shootout in front of the Milton end.
Cherries substitute Lee Barnard – on loan from Southampton – was denied by a superb stop from Mikkel Anderson.
Meanwhile, Howard, Liam Walker, Ashley Harris and Rodgers all netted to give Pompey the edge.
Marc Pugh then stepped up – needing to net to keep his side in the game but instead he could only blaze over.
It prompted jubilant celebrations as Appleton’s men clinched a 4-3 victory on penalties to progress into the next round.
And suddenly, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is not all that bad after all.
Appleton made four changes to the side who slumped to defeat against Oldham at the weekend.
Hampered by competition restrictions on the number of alterations to a team’s line-up, it meant there were no widespread changes.
Those who did come in, however, included Harris – a popular move among the home fans.
The youngster has produced several impressive cameos in recent weeks and was rewarded with his second start of the campaign.
He took the place of Jack Compton on the left wing, the former West Brom man stepping out of Appleton’s 16-man squad completely.
Kevin Long was also back, having served his one-match suspension, and was restored to the centre of defence in place of Johnny Ertl.
He partnered debutant Josh Thompson, the former Celtic man having received clearance to play following his deadline-day switch.
That enabled Paul Connolly to move over to his more accustomed right-back role, in turn freeing Dumbuya to feature higher up the pitch.
Liam Walker was the man to drop out as a result, going to the five-man bench alongside a fit-again Lee Williamson.
There was also a change in attack with Rodgers restored to the line-up in place of the suspended youngster Jordan Obita.
Regardless of the reshuffle, however, Pompey found themselves behind after just five minutes.
Right-back Simon Francis got to the by-line and delivered a deep cross which was met by the head of Macdonald, who had risen above Long.
Andersen managed to get a left hand on his effort but couldn’t keep it out and it diverted into the top corner of the net.
These were unimpressive early stages for the home side and on five minutes Steve Cook drove a 25-yarder narrowly wide of the target.
It was in the 15th minute when Pompey eked out their first attempt on goal. Howard combined with Izale McLeod to unleash a drive which Shwan Jalal saved low down.
Appleton’s men were coming more into it and next Rodgers picked up the ball and fired in an angled shot from just inside the area which drifted narrowly wide of the far post.
Then Harris shot over the crossbar from distance after Howard squared a free-kick to him 30-yards from goal.
Bournemouth, though, should have taken the lead in the 27th minute when Josh McQuoid produced a delightful reverse pass to send Wes Fogden clear inside the box.
But the former Hawks man saw his angled shot fizz past the far post.
Pompey grabbed an equaliser in the 45 minutes – against the run of play.
Howard started it all off with a wonderful cross-field pass from his own half to pick out Dumbuya on the right flank.
And the former Doncaster Rovers man created enough space to whip in a low cross which Rodgers turned home from close range – after nipping in ahead of Cherries centre-back Tommy Elphick. At the break, Williamson was introduced for Thompson, with Connolly moving to centre half and Dumbuya dropping into the right-back slot.
Barely five minutes after the restart, Andersen had to be alert to produce a sprawling stop and deny Fogden.
Moments later the keeper received treatment along with McQuoid as both collided attempting to meet Lewis Grabban’s dangerous cross from the right.
The visitors regained the lead in the 59th minute, though, when Arter’s corner was played from the right to the lurking Macdonald outside the box.
The midfielder took one touch before unleashing a rocket into the top corner, with a challenge from a Pompey player still to arrive.
Jon Harley prevented the Blues falling further behind when he superbly headed off the line after Andersen had half-stopped Grabban’s shot.
The impressive Fogden then struck the post – only for Pompey to grab an equaliser seconds later.
Rodgers fed Howard and the skipper surged forward before switching the ball to his left foot and curling it into the top corner from 20 yards.
The match was now proving a breathtaking spectacle and moments later Macdonald was clean through.
He took two touches before blazing over with his third when faced with just the keeper to beat. With the match approaching penalties, Grabban delivered a cross from the right which was deflected to Barnard at the far post.
But the substitute somehow managed to put the ball over the crossbar.
The match headed into penalties and Pompey proved to be more decisive in the pressure situation.
A win for Appleton in a much-maligned competition and suddenly hopes are raised this season is now going to get up and running.