Remember, remember, the 22nd of September. This was the day that Manchester United’s new found frailties first reared their ugly head, in David Moyes’ first encounter with the rather noisy neighbours.
Results are easily forgotten, and indeed the 4-1 thrashing meted out by City was, to some United fans, merely three points lost, but poignantly, the pain and suffering endured by United throughout this season can be traced back to that fateful day at the Etihad.
The 2013/14 season started quite well for the newly appointed Moyes. A comfortable win at Swansea, a respectable 0-0 draw with Chelsea, a narrow 1-0 defeat at Liverpool, and a home win against Crystal Palace had seen United join both City and Chelsea in joint fourth in the table leading up to the game first Manchester Derby.
How things have changed since that day.
Four up before the hour mark, City and new boss Manuel Pellegrini made an immediate statement of intent on their Manchester bed-fellows, and provided the impetus for their ensuing and ongoing title bid.
For United, it was a day of abject failure, and a worrying precursor for things to come. But no-one could have predicted the extent of their suffering this season, scrabbling around mid-table six months on, closer to the likes of Newcastle and Southampton than to the top four.
United currently lie eleven points behind City, and with very little to play for domestically, in terms of what the club have come to expect from a Premier League campaign.
To many, the power shift in Manchester is all but complete, with City striving for continued and sustainable glory, while United are worryingly close to spending years stuck in a perennial transition period.
Moyes has turned from a man in a new spotlight, to a man under a fixed crosshair, and many United fans have all but given up on the Scot.
However, a wonderful night at Old Trafford against Olympiakos last week has seen him earn some breathing room, with United comfortably ousting West Ham on the weekend to give fans a small glimmer of hope for a revival.
But tomorrow’s clash with City may well be a step too soon for this fragile United squad. Like a man recovering from serious physical injury, the achievement of taking your first few steps (Olympiakos) cannot be understated, but for United, tomorrow’s game against City at Old Trafford could be then like tackling a bear.
United fans will be desperately hoping that the further their side is pushed into oblivion, the harder they will fight to get out of it.
What do you think? Can United overcome their bitter rivals? Let me know in the comments below…