City are smarting from another miserable Champions League outing, which saw them beaten by Borussia Dortmund and knocked out of Europe to become the first English side to finish the group stage without a victory.
City drew with Everton last time out in the league and lie three points behind United in second place. They remain the only unbeaten team in the division.
United also suffered a midweek disappointment in Europe, and though their defeat to CFR Cluj had no bearing on their progress in the Champions League, it was a result that did little for their confidence heading into the derby.
Sir Alex Ferguson's team have won their last three in the Premier League, most recently coming from behind to beat Reading in a frantic encounter at the Madejski. Few would doubt United's attacking pedigree. Even fewer would doubt the holes in their defence this season.
Here are five battles to watch on Sunday.