Paul Scholes has reflected on his relationship with the FA Cup, looking at his first final against Everton in 1995.

United went in 1-0 down at half-time and Scholes was subbed on with 20 minutes left to play, but United failed to equalise.

In my mind’s eye I can still see my miss in the late stages of the 1995 FA Cup final against Everton at the old Wembley Stadium. I hit it well but had not placed it far away enough from Neville Southall, who had an easy save. And with that single moment my summer was ruined.

That was the first FA Cup final of my career, aged 20, and I was on as a substitute for Lee Sharpe to try to score an equaliser. As FA Cup third-round weekend comes around again, I can say that I come from a generation where the Cup remained a great prize for a professional footballer. It was as much about the day at the old Wembley, in the days when just playing there alone could represent the pinnacle of a player’s career. As a boy I had loved the competition.

I played in six FA Cup finals and on performance alone we should have won them all. As it turned out, we lost to Everton in 1995, Arsenal in 2005 and Chelsea in 2007. We beat Liverpool in 1996, Newcastle in 1999 – a final in which I scored and made the other – and then Millwall in 2004. In 1995, my first final, I had never played at Wembley before and the anticipation of the game was enormous.

At United, we would always stay in a nice hotel by the river in Windsor for FA Cup finals. Usually away games would be a trip on a Friday for a Saturday game but for FA Cup finals we would head south on the Thursday. There would be a different atmosphere around the hotel. And then, regardless of the result, we would have a decent party afterwards with the families.

What has changed? I think the honour of playing at Wembley has been devalued in the minds of players and fans. That is not helped by the ridiculous decision to stage the semi-finals there as well. There was something magical about the Twin Towers. The history of the place meant that it felt like a major moment in your career. These days, footballers, especially those in the Champions League, play in famous stadiums so often that Wembley does not stand out so much.

It still amazes me when I see managers of mid-ranking Premier League clubs – clubs who have gone years without winning a trophy – picking understrength teams for the FA Cup. I dare say we will see it again this weekend. Yet what does it take to win the FA Cup? Excluding replays it is six games. Any side should be able to balance that with the demands of a league season.