Man City vs Man United will contest arguably the most-anticipated FA Cup final in recent memory at Wembley on Saturday. A single match it may well be, but its significance stretches beyond just this weekend given the wider context of the achievement City are chasing.
United's status as the only English team to ever achieve the treble – that's the top tier league title, FA Cup and European Cup/Champions League – has come under real threat in the past couple of years, and many would consider City near certainties to match that feat this season after winning the Premier League. After all, they're firm favourites on Saturday and against Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League final a week later.
Fitting, then, that United can have a direct say in the matter. The first ever major final between the two neighbours will have Pep Guardiola's side looking to further their all-conquering ambitions, while Erik ten Hag hopes to lift a second trophy in what would subsequently be perceived a very positive first season, if it isn't already.
"I understand, of course, the feelings from the fans about it," Ten Hag said of the final and City's treble chase. "We will do everything to give them the second trophy – everything that I have, everything the team has, the staff have, we will give everything to get it done."
United beat Newcastle United in February to win the EFL Cup, meaning victory on Saturday would see them clinch a domestic cup double for the first time ever. But City are different beast. The way they simply – well, that's how it seemed – elevated their level when it mattered most in the Premier League title race was hugely impressive, racking up 12 wins on the bounce to leave Arsenal in their dust. Now they can become only the third club to win a league and FA Cup double more than once if they are successful at the weekend.
Such occasions may not be quite as frequent for United as they once were during the Sir Alex Ferguson era, though historically they are a club used to going deep into the competition. This will be their 21st FA Cup final, a joint record with Arsenal.
Of course, the flipside to that is a defeat on Saturday will mean they've lost more FA Cup finals than any other team (nine), but it's surely better to have reached that stage than not, right?
Either way, the task ahead of United is seismic. City are the highest scorers (17) in this season's FA Cup and potentially 90 minutes away from lifting the trophy without conceding once, something no team has done since Bury in 1903.
On top of that, City dominated our Premier League Team of the Season, with Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Manuel Akanji and Ruben Dias all enjoying stellar campaigns. United had no representatives, though with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes, they clearly have weapons that can hurt the EPL champions.
Man City quartet Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji all missed the defeat at Brentford due to minor injury or fitness concerns, but Guardiola has since confirmed that they have all taken part in training this week and are "more or less fine" to feature on Saturday.
Guardiola has also confirmed that goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, who has kept five clean sheets in as many FA Cup games en route to this year's final, will start between the sticks ahead of first-choice shot-stopper Ederson.
Nathan Ake started against Brentford and played for just over an hour on his return from a hamstring injury, and the Dutch defender is in contention to retain his place on the left side, while John Stones is set to return and take up his hybrid midfield role alongside Rodri.
Captain Ilkay Gundogan is expected to return in centre-midfield, and Bernardo Silva will likely battle with Stockport-born Phil Foden and semi-final hat-trick hero Mahrez for a spot on the right wing, while goal machine Erling Braut Haaland – who scored a treble in the 6-3 win over United last October – will lead the line and seek to increase his astonishing goal tally of 52 in all competitions.
As for Man United, Ten Hag has admitted that Antony is "unlikely" to play in the final after failing to make progress in his recover from an ankle injury, while Anthony Martial has been ruled out with a hamstring problem and is joined in the treatment room by Lisandro Martinez (foot), Marcel Sabitzer, Donny van de Beek (both knee) and Tom Heaton (ankle).
The expected absence of Antony is set to see Alejandro Garnacho and former Man City youngster Jadon Sancho occupy the flanks, with top scorer Marcus Rashford leading the line at the expense of Martial.
Midfield lynchpin Casemiro, who along with Rashford scored in United's last Wembley outing in the EFL Cup final, is poised to line up alongside Bruno Fernandes and either Christian Eriksen or Fred in the middle of the pitch.
Left-back Luke Shaw is fit to return to the starting lineup after recovering from a minor back issue, while Raphael Varane is set to replace captain Harry Maguire and partner Victor Lindelof in central defence.
Manchester United have a good historical record against Manchester City and have won 78 out of the 189 matches played between the two teams, as opposed to Manchester United's 58 victories.
Manchester City are winless in their last two matches and have scored only one goal across both games but did play these matches after they won the Premier League title.
Manchester United have won their last four matches in all competitions and have already won the League Cup at Wembley in February this year.
Erling Haaland created history in the Premier League this season – his 36 league goals represent the highest tally by a single player in a single edition of the competition.
Manchester City have won four of their last six matches against Manchester United in all competitions but did lose their most recent such game by a 2-1 margin.
Ortega; Walker, Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Bernardo, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Sancho, Fernandes, Garnacho; Rashford
Ortega; Walker, Dias, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish, Fernandes, Haaland