Preview: It may technically be an exhibition, but the Community Shield will provide a serious test for two teams expected to contest strongly for the Premier League title in the upcoming season. On Sunday last season's champions Manchester City take on FA Cup winners Chelsea at Villa Park.
There is much interest on how both sides will shape-up just a week before the Premier League gets underway.
Since the dramatic claiming of their first title in 44 years, things have been strangely quiet at the Etihad. An unparalleled level of spending helped bring about that moment of glory but, with a growing realization of the threat posed by Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules, there has yet to be any arrivals during the close season.
City's failure to boost their squad has led to increasingly exasperated statements from manager Roberto Mancini as he struggles to contain his frustration with sporting director Brian Marwood, in particular.
Yet, even without additions, City have a formidable squad that should only be improved by having a Premier League title win under their belts. Yaya Toure will again be expected to be the driving force in midfield, while Sergio Aguero should be supported by a refocused Carlos Tevez and Euro 2012 star Mario Balotelli in attack.
In contrast to the inactivity at City, Chelsea have been grabbing the headlines with a frenetic summer of spending. After winning the Champions League title for the first time, owner Roman Abramovich appears determined to add style to the team's evident resilience. Having finishing an unacceptable sixth in the Premier League last season, a dramatic improvement will be expected this year.
Over £60 million has been spent in acquiring oodles of young creative talent in Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin.
Of those, only Hazard will be at action at Villa Park, though, with Marin out injured and Oscar having been part of the Brazil team that lost the Olympic final to Mexico on Saturday.
City will also have absentees, with captain Vincent Kompany, along with Gareth Barry and Micah Richards all carrying injuries.
D: Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole
M: Lampard, Mikel, Meireles,
F: Ramires, Torres, Hazard
Manchester City (probable)
D: Zabaleta, Savic, Lescott, Clichy
M: Y. Toure, De Jong
Johnson, Tevez, Johnson
Prediction: It's always difficult to judge how teams will fare with fitness and preparation still the primary focus. But, while Chelsea look set for a major challenge this year, their preseason has not gone swimmingly. City's side looks set to be stronger on the day and they should continue to build on the confidence of that all-important first title of the new era at the club.
Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City