Sir Alex Ferguson says he is excited by the prospect of Manchester United's most important game of the season to date, a real ''six-pointer'' in the derby against City.
Sir Alex is looking forward to the derby
Ferguson has been impressed with the start his perceived main rivals for the Premier League title have made and, despite a run that has seen them win just twice at Old Trafford in 37 years, knows that City could find themselves five points clear at the top of the table if they can beat his side.
"It is an exciting prospect," he said. "City have done fantastically well and if they had not thrown a two-goal lead away at Fulham they would have been top of the league with a 100% record.
"This game could be significant at the end of the season. It is a six-pointer. It will make a difference to whichever team wins it. But it is early doors and you can recover. There is no doubt about that. With our record in the second half of the season, you hope that we will be better."
Current champions United find themselves in the usual position of being below their local rivals in the table, but Ferguson is relishing the challenge with the focus away from London sides Arsenal and Chelsea this season.
"We always accept a challenge at this club," he said. "We have had that time and time again. This is another situation. It is another game in the history of our club and we have to do something about it.
"You don't always want to be behind clubs, like we were for a couple of years with Chelsea. But we showed we had the vigour and determination, and also the decision-making that got us back in front of that particular football club."
However, although the last few years have brought a seven-goal thriller settled by Michael Owen in stoppage time, Wayne Rooney's last-gasp goal to seal a Carling Cup semi-final triumph and Yaya Toure's FA Cup semi-final matchwinner, in addition to Rooney's spectacular overhead kick in the corresponding fixture last term, Ferguson is not certain another sensational contest is on the horizon.
''There could be goals - but it could also be disappointing,'' accepted Ferguson. ''It is a major game. It is very seldom in major games that you get a lot of goals.''
• Catch action from every Barclays Premier League match on your mobile for FREE on the enhanced ESPN Goals app (UK only).