Not since Bob Stokoe led Sunderland to FA Cup glory in 1973 has the club lifted silverware.
A knee injury to Darren Bent has given the medical team cause for concern and the Premier Leagues leading English goalscorer wont be risked this evening against Aston Villa in the Carling Cup and he remains a doubt for Saturdays Premier League encounter with West Ham.
Bent is one of three enforced changes to Bruces squad as the manager eyes a place in the quarter finals.
Andy Reid and Phil Bardsley are the other main doubts to face Martin ONeills side whom Bruce believes offer a template for the type of club he wants to build on Wearside.
And he acknowledges that securing silverware would be a major statement of his intentions, and is refusing to let Premier League ambitions distract him from continuing the drive to a Wembley final.
Were are a Premier league team but what the hells the point of just going along trying to be a Premier League team he asked. When I was at Birmingham I put out half a team at Blackpool and we got turned over because I was concentrating on establishing them as a Premier League team.
From the outset Ive seen this as a competition we can win. As a manager I have never been remotely close to winning a trophy and Ive got to go for it while I am here.
Bruce is considering handing Nyron Nosworthy a role to combat the physical threat of Emile Heskey and John Carew.
He said: I would have played (John) Mensah but hes come back maybe too quickly and had a setback with his calf injury. I cant see Bardsley recovering from his shoulder problem so there will be a change there.
Bentys got a sore knee so I cant risk him. We hope (he recovers to face West Ham) but hes had a bad knock. He got a kick. It wobbled his knee a bit and gave him a fright. It was close to being serious but I dont think it is. Its not ligaments he sort of twisted and jolted his knee, it rattled everything but we dont think its too bad.
Bruce revealed his admiration for the job that ONeill has done at Villa Park.
If there is any club we are trying to copy it would be Villa. What Martin has done there is amazing. This club has been in the Premier League for two years Villa have been there since 93. They have a very strong squad.
In the meantime, skipper Lorik Cana confirmed that he wants to spearhead a new era at the club.
I want to be part of a team that can match the great Sunderland teams of the past, he said. That is why I came here.
A month ago we met the team that won the FA Cup in 1973 and they told me a lot about the club. Each player should know about the past of their club but especially if you are captain.
Cash turnstiles will be in operation tonight, priced £20.