Preview: Manchester City travel to Madrid with a point to prove. It is a phrase that rings true not just for the club as a whole, but also for their manager of several players.
City remain very much the young upstarts in European terms. They may have been crowned champions of England for the first time in 44 years last season, but an early exit on their return to Europe's premier competition means that there is still plenty of work to be done to move toward achieving what is surely the next stage of the incredible project at the Etihad.
Being drawn in an intimidating group for the second season running reflects, in part, City's still low standing in European soccer. A match against the European Cup/Champions League's most successful club gives them the chance to prove that they merit consideration as part of the continent's elite.
There are plenty of individuals at City, who will also have very personal motivation on Tuesday. New signing Javi Garcia has twice been deemed not good enough to make the grade at Real Madrid. A repeat of his goal-scoring debut against Stoke on Saturday would surely be most satisfying for the Spanish midfielder.
Garcia's teammate David Dilva has also tasted rejection from Real. Aged 14, Silva went on trial at Los Meringues, but the club elected not to sign him, reportedly because he was too small. Since then Real have twice try to sign Silva, to no avail. The silky-skilled attacking midfielder joined City ahead of Real two years ago after he said that he was wanted more in Manchester. There was also surely little coincidence in the timing of the announcement on Monday that Silva had signed a new contract with City, putting pay to a summer of speculation linking him once again with a move to the Bernabeu. Silva would surely relish the opportunity to show Real just what they have missed out on.
As a former Barcelona player, City's Yaya Toure will need little extra incentive to strive for a famous victory.
The man at City with the biggest incentive, though, is surely boss Roberto Mancini. The Italian was crudely discarded by Inter Milan, despite winning three successive Serie A titles, for his failure in Europe. The man who replaced him: Current Real manager Jose Mourinho, who promptly won the Champions League in his second season in Milan before heading off to Madrid.
Both managers may be speaking diplomatically about each other in the buildup, but there can be no doubt that Mancini would love to put one over on the much-heralded Mourinho on Tuesday evening and set-up his side's chances of making the competition's next phase.
Mourinho currently has enough to worry about within his own dressing room. Already with speculation rampant over the sadness of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real slumped to their second defeat of the La Liga season on Saturday to leave them eight points behind Barcelona.
Usually so protective of his players, Mourinho pulled no punches in suggesting certain members of his squad were not putting everything in and claiming that "at the moment, I have no team."
Neither team has any fresh injury worries with Real having a clean bill of health and City still without Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta. Crucially, though, City could well welcome back forward Sergio Aguero.
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo
M: Khedira, Alonso
Di Maria, Modric, Ronaldo
Manchester City (probable)
D: Maicon, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov
M: Toure, Garcia
Nasri, Tevez, Silva
Prediction: Real Madrid have struggled in La Liga thus far, but against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup they showed that they remain a formidable force when they are truly tuned in to the match. The contest has enough talent on show to suggest it could be a classic, but don't expect it to be a wide open affair. Mancini, like Mourinho, still has a natural tendency toward putting a priority on defense and City are likely to try and keep things tight at the back.
The midfield battle could be key and City need a big performance from Yaya Toure. Real will fancy their chances of profiting down the left with Cristiano Ronaldo going against the sometimes defensively suspect Maicon.
City should give a good account of themselves, but, as they look to bounce back from their defeat to Sevilla in front of a demanding public, Real should get the win.
Real Madrid 2-1 Manchester City