Manchester's two big rivals clash this weekend at the Etihad Stadium in what is easily the most mouth-watering tie in the third round of this season's FA Cup.
In the context of the Premier League era, it is a clash between 'new money' and 'old money'. City—firstly through Thaksin Shinawatra's one year in charge of the club and now through the bank-rolling of Sheikh Mansour—are for the first time in their history enjoying having a huge budget to spend, and they are doing so with relish.
United, by contrast, were an internationally popular and rich club even in the dark days of the 1970s and '80s when they were not the consistently successful outfit they have become in the past two decades under Sir Alex Ferguson's management.
It is not yet a foregone conclusion that City will win the Premier League title this season, but they are significant favourites. Even if they are pipped to the trophy this year, it seems inevitable given their current squad and spending power that they will eventually bring home the biggest domestic trophy. They have spent more than £500 million on transfer fees since Mansour took over in August 2008 and show no signs of stopping, provided they can circumnavigate the new financial fair play regulations.
However, while a major part of United's success under Ferguson has been due to youth products such as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Gary Neville, they have also consistently spent big too. The £2.3 million United spent on defender Gary Pallister in 1989 was a huge amount of money at the time, and it set the tone for United using their financial clout ever since. Nine of their current squad cost more than £15 million.
But is it acceptable for any team—to one degree or another—to 'buy' a title? Should football hang on to the idealistic notion that money can't buy success, or is the harsh truth that the rich usually have it best as true in sport as it is in life?
Is major outlay for short-term gain to the detriment of long-term development, or is it a short cut to the top table?
Here are a few pros and cons a super-rich team 'buying' their trophies.