Two of Serie A's most devoted servants will clash at the San Siro once again this Sunday, when the Derby di Milano promises to be the jewel of the Italian weekend.
Although neither Inter nor Milan are going through patches of their respective histories likely to be remembered all too fondly, this fixture nonetheless carries a heavy significance with it.
Ahead of this latest clash between Milan's biggest names, read on for some of the key storylines related to Sunday's meeting, as well as a prediction of who one can expect to see emerge triumphant.
Date: Sunday, Dec. 22
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET
Viewing Info: BT Sport 1 (UK), Sky Sport 1 (ITA)
Stream: BT Sport App (subscription required)
Zanetti: Derby's Lost Its Appeal
Having spent the last 18 years of his career at Inter, there's not many alive today who know the significance of a Milan Derby more than Javier Zanetti, in contention to feature this weekend.
Roma are the only club against whom Zanetti has turned out more in his career, the Argentinian having played 40 times against Milan while the Giallorossi have faced Zanetti on an incredible 50 occasions, per transfermarkt.co.uk.
However, this weekend's meeting has a more downtrodden taste to it, the veteran telling Italian television network RAI (h/t Football Italia) that: “A derby without the Curvas loses its appeal.”
That's due to the announcement that Inter's stand at the San Siro would be closed on Sunday as punishment for racist chants heard from the away fans in Naples recently.
CNN's Tancredi Palmeri confirms:
Disappointing though the news may be for Inter, it's a necessary reaction to evidence of racist abuse and one the club may even be fortunate is not more severe.
Team News: Emanuelson Racing For Fitness
Having picked up a knock to his elbow during the 2-2 draw against Roma on Monday evening, Urby Emanuelson spent the night in hospital with doubts over his immediate fitness.
However, Football Italia reports the former Ajax and Fulham winger saying he's on the mend and could be available for Sunday's examination:
I want to tell you guys that I feel much better. Luckily nothing is broken.
Let us see how I feel over the next days and I hope I will be ready for the derby. Thanks for all the support and messages.
Although a natural attacker for the vast majority of his career, Emanuelson has played almost exclusively at left-back for the Rossoneri this season, but he has shown an encouraging willingness to fit in where necessary for the best interests of the squad.
Should the 27-year-old's injury keep him out of action, Daniele Bonera or Cristian Zaccardo could be forced to play left-back should Mattia De Sciglio continue filling in for the injured Ignazio Abate at right-back.
Milan have other concerns, however, and it's unknown as to whether Christian Abbiati, as tweeted by Football Italia, has recovered from the stomach illness that forced him off at half-time against Roma, Gabriel deputising in his stead:
There are worries in attack, too, however, as Robinho and Stephan El Shaarawy both look unlikely to recover in time for the derby, Football Italia having reported that the pair would miss the Roma encounter:
For Inter, nothing new has risen, although the veteran centre-back pair of Walter Samuel and Cristian Chivu will remain sidelined, the former having made just three league appearances this term while the latter is yet to feature.
Kaka Under International Scrutiny
Kaka hasn't featured under Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari since March of this year, but sources suggest the midfielder may get another run in the Brazilian national team, with the coach coming to run the rule over Milan's playmaker this weekend.
Sky Sports Paulo Freitas confirms the speculation:
By the time the 2014 World Cup comes, Kaka will be 32 years of age, but the number doesn't necessarily mean that the playmaker has no use to his nation's chances of winning on home soil.
This Sunday may be the firsthand evidence that Scolari needs to draft Kaka back into his squad and begin the journey back to prominence, after falling so far off track at Real Madrid.
Prediction: Inter 3-1 Milan
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