City's opening fixtures give them the perfect platform on which to build in time for the visit of United.
It was no doubt the first game Manuel Pellegrini searched for when next season’s fixtures were announced. And he didn’t have far to look.
Just five games into the next Premier League campaign, the new Manchester City manager will have the chance to best the reigning champions. And there will be no bolder message to send than to beat Manchester United early and emphatically, in front of the Etihad fans.
While David Moyes gets his head around the challenge of beating Chelsea, Liverpool and City all in the space of a month, Pellegrini can be a little more relaxed about the whole thing.
That is no disrespect to the sides City do have to face; only that they are not of the calibre of United’s opponents.
Pellegrini’s first four competitive matches will be home games against Newcastle United and Hull, and away matches against Cardiff and Stoke.
All difficult in their own way, but let’s be honest – if the Chilean was hand-picking his introduction to Premier League life, it would look very similar to that.
City fans have already been promised a certain type of football under the former Malaga coach. But it is a style that will take time. And should he be able to instil it during pre-season, and practice it in those opening matches, it may just be coming to the boil in time for United.
That first match between the oldest of foes and the newest of managers may be crucial for both men’s legacies…and their egos.
Neither will want to lose their first Manchester derby. And whoever triumphs may ultimately take a lot more than bragging rights come the end of the season.
In many ways, United’s difficult start could work in their favour. They will certainly be used to the most competitive of fixtures by the time they face City. But the Blues will be expected to take 12 points from their opening games, and should they do so, that winning habit could be the difference in a derby that is (almost) always extremely close.
They say there is no such thing as an easy game in the top flight. But there are those you would pick and those you wouldn’t.
Pellegrini has been gifted the former. Come September, we will see if he is as blessed as he appears.
Do you believe City will win their opening four games...and their fifth against United?