A clash of cultures, style and tradition, bringing together the nouveau riche with the archaic superpower; on January 8, red and blue will collide once more.
After City’s 6-1 demolition of United at the end of October, coupled with their humiliating exit from the Champions League, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side come into the match with something to prove.
After a blistering start to the season spawned an aura of semi-invincibility about both sides, recent tough patches have shown both to be fallible.
It promises to be, therefore, a season-defining game upon which the tides of Manchester will turn.
Here are 10 predictions for the matchup.
I, for one, harbour serious doubts as to whether the misnomer at old Trafford in October will ever be repeated in my lifetime, such was its colossal, unexpected repercussions.
Whilst on paper City may have the more star-studded and expensive squad, Manchester United’s is bisected by a winning mantra. Vast factions of the squad have been there, won that, but for City it is alien territory.
The game will therefore most likely be decided by a solitary goal. I honestly believe United are set up to become the victors, and in so doing alleviate the muttering of the changing of the Manchester guard. But City will start as favourites, especially in their own backyard.
This essentially leads on from the last point. Both United and City are currently looking far superior to the rest of the league, with only Tottenham emerging as highly debatable viable challengers.
With this in mind, the winner of this game would be instantly installed as the favourite for FA Cup glory, and mindful of finishing the season with silverware, would probably look for a good cup run. Even if they do not win it, however, it is highly likely they will feature in the later stages, an extra five or so games.
The deposed challenger will leave the competition at the third round stage, with only the Premiership and Europa League to focus on for the rest of the season. In my opinion, with such fine margins at stake, this dilution of interests will be key when the title race inevitably comes down to the wire.
Park Ji-Sung, Manchester United’s Asian maestro, is Sir Alex’s big game player. With industry drive and tenacity he rarely, if ever, lets his boss down.
Park will get his chance against City, as the boss looks to close down the gaps that were afforded to City’s creative genius David Silva in the Manchester mauling.
Park raises his game for the big occasion, and has an uncanny knack of scoring crucial goals, such as last seasons' winner against Arsenal. I would not be at all surprised if the South Korean repaid his boss’ faith with a goal against City.
Manchester derbies matter more than ever before. A loss can be cataclysmic or a victory can reignite a season and prove decisive to fans' moral.
With this in mind, neither manager can afford to play a particularly weak or youthful side for the match, with only the bare minimum in squad rotation permissible.
Therefore, expect to see the likes of Rooney, Nani, Evra, Silva Aguero and Kompany all taking to the field at the weekend.
After his highly publicised £18 million move from Atletico Madrid in the summer to fill the void left by Edwin van der Sar’s retirement, de Gea has, it’s fair to say, not enjoyed the easiest of initiations.
The 21-year-old is patently a huge talent, and one with whom the custody of United’s goal, in the long-term, looks in good health. Yet he is a young man struggling with confidence, and his performance last time out against Blackburn, and in particular his cacophonous misjudgement for their winning goal, was awful.
Danish reserve goalkeeper, also a relative newbie at the club, has looked calm and assured when Sir Alex has called upon him, leading many to call for his promotion to the side in de Gea’s stead.
Lindegaard will keep goal for United for this crucial clash.
The logic for this one is very simple. After the Charity Shield match between the two formed the curtain raiser to the 2011-12 season, and the inevitable two league matches, the FA Cup clash will bring the total to four clashes this term.
Now, with both sides in the Europa League after varying degrees of disastrous Champions League campaigns, and with no disrespect to their opponents who are among the strongest teams in the competition, a meeting is fairly likely.
This would bring the total to six meetings this season if it occurred before the final (home and away legs), and five if both made it to the showpiece event. Add to this the possibility of an FA Cup replay if the first leg ends in stalemate, and you have potential for a mouth-watering seven Manchester derbies in 2011-12.
This is probably the boldest prediction on the list, as Balotelli is almost the antithesis of quiet.
A man whose ‘escapades’ in England read like the outtakes from a popular sitcom is not really one to slip under the radar. Indeed, the last meeting between the sides was remembered in no small part for a Balotelli double and curious decision to reveal a t-shirt asking ‘Why always me?’ after netting his first.
Yet Sir Alex will have Balotelli’s card marked in the return meeting, and will ensure the mercurial Italian is tightly marked, which is a situation that he doesn’t thrive under.
Balotelli will become frustrated and will probably be substituted sometime after halftime.
The two sides boast the two most potent attacking forces in the Premier League, two sides that are scoring at will and attacking with verve and panache.
Spearheaded by Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney, who sit amidst the pantheons of the world’s greatest strikers, goals are somewhat a forte.
In the two previous meetings between the sides this season a clean sheet has not been kept, and I see no reason why January 8th will be any different.
Dimitar Berbatov, for the majority of this season, has been Manchester United’s forgotten man. Relegated to a semi-permanent bench state, it appeared that the club’s record signing would be out of the door sooner rather than later.
Yet in recent weeks Berbatov has been given a chance to prolong the tenure he has always confessed to be desperate to maintain. Grasping the handles of his own destiny, Berbatov is now United’s striker in form after six goals in his last three games.
Sir Alex is a man for whom form is more pertinent than reputation. Therefore, it is fairly likely that Berbatov will get to build upon his strong recent showing with a start at City.
For all of the previously attributed reasons of supremacy, circumstance, opportunity and form I find it impossible to believe that both of these sides won't finish the season with silverware.
United already have the Charity Shield under their burgeoning belts and City have the chance to open up their own trophy cabinet for 2011-12 in the Carling Cup.
Add to this the Premiership, FA Cup and Europa League triumvirate across which both teams are competing, and I find it almost inconceivable that the two superpowers won't add to their hoards.