Premier League tests do not come much bigger than an away date at Old Trafford, even when taking into account the struggles Manchester United have endured on the back of Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
That is the challenge facing Stoke City on Saturday, with the Potters hoping the Theatre of Dreams will prove to be a happy hunting ground.
They have come unstuck in their last six trips to the red half of Manchester and are still searching for their first points in that part of the world since stepping back up into the top-flight.
Mark Hughes is a man who knows all about United’s fortress of a home, though, and is in optimistic mood as he prepares to return to familiar surroundings with his current employers.
The Welshman admits he would have prepared to take in such a fixture earlier in the season, when the Red Devils were still finding their feet under Louis van Gaal, but insists his troops will travel with no fear and believing that they can leave with something.
Stoke City FC (@stokecity) December 1, 2014
Tightening up at the back is a must for Stoke if they are to hand United another black eye in front of their own supporters.
The Potters have conceded 20 times in their six Premier League defeats at Old Trafford to date, offering only five goals in reply.
As Hughes has pointed out, though, the Red Devils are not the force they once were and history has been written by several visiting sides in the last couple of years – with memorable successes enjoyed on a ground which had previously delivered nothing but pain and suffering.