Preview: This is the derby game of all derby games, Sir Alex Ferguson has said, according to the BBC. And that just about sums it up.
But this is not just the biggest Manchester derby in living memory, but also quite possibly the biggest match in the 20-year-history of the Premier League.
Although Ferguson's counterpart, Roberto Mancini, has tried to play down the significance, this match really should decide the fate of the Premier League title. A win or draw for United and they will have a at least three-point advantage heading into the final two games of the season.
A win for City at the Etihad on Monday and they will lead the table with at least a seven-goal advantage in goal difference over their rivals.
If either team fail to win the championship after getting a desired result in the derby then it would be one of the biggest disappointments in either of the clubs' long histories.
It is a match that lies tantalizingly in the balance. United have all the experience of having been in this position time and again over recent seasons and know that they can afford to draw the game.
But City arguably have the most talented squad and will have the advantage of playingat home. City will also be buoyed by having pegged back what was an eight-point deficit with three straight victories, scoring 12 goals in the process, while United have stumbled.
Of course, both sides will also remember all too well, for very different reasons, the shocking 6-1 defeat City inflicted on United at Old Trafford back in October.
Team News: Mario Balotelli is available again for City after suspension, but will likely have to settle for a place among the substitutes. Carlos Tevez has reinvigorated the side since coming back into the starting lineup following his six-month hiatus and is again likely to be selected in tandem with Sergio Aguero.
Micah Richards is expected to be fit after his recent injury and is expected to come in for Pabo Zabaleta at right-back.
Ferguson has no fresh injury worries and his key selection dilemma concerns whether to stick with Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney up front in a 4-4-2, or bring in an extra midfielder. The United manager has tended to play with a reinforced midfield in big away games, particularly in Europe and, with United only needing a draw, it is likely that he will do the same at the Etihad.
Ji-Sung Park is the likeliest player to come in, with his industry best suited to complement the technical talent of Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick. But with the South Korean not having played in six weeks, Ferguson would be taking a risk. The other options include dropping Rooney back into the midfield, as has happened before, or to select Tom Cleverley.
The other selection for headache for Ferguson revolves around who to start at right-back. Rafael had something of a nightmare against Everton last time out and Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are both waiting in the wings.
Manchester City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Toure, Barry; Silva, Nasri, Aguero; Tevez
Manchester United: De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Carrick, Scholes; Valencia, Park, Nani; Rooney.
Prediction: On paper City have to be favorites to get the victory they so desperately crave. City have been phenomenal at home this season, where they have only dropped two points, while they also come into the fixture with form and momentum in their favor
If City play at their best they could overrun United, particularly in midfield, where the Premier League leaders lack strength and mobility.
Yet, despite all that, in games such as these it is often the intangible factors to decide the outcome. With United's greater mental strength and extra experience in Premier League title races, they could well do enough to earn a precious point.
Manchester City 1-1 Manchester United