Current Magpie and former Black Cat Jack Colback claims his side are long overdue a derby victory.
The Magpies have suffered badly against the Black Cats in recent years, failing to beat their fellow strugglers and North East rivals in any of the last eight meetings, and losing the last six in a row.
Colback does not need to be told what the derby means to both clubs and their fans, having played and scored for Sunderland against his boyhood club.
However, he admitted that the serious peril of both sides at the bottom of the Premier League table has intensified the ferocity and importance of the fixture, and insisted that his side owe his former club a defeat.
The 26-year-old told the Chronicle: "It doesn’t need to be built up. It is massive for us regardless of the league position, [but] it’s even bigger now with the position of both teams.
"Obviously we haven’t won in a while against them so we certainly owe them one in that respect but also for the three points."
It will be an early major test for new Magpies manager Rafael Benitez, who took charge of his first match on Tyneside in the 1-0 defeat at league leaders Leicester City on Monday night.
There were small signs of improvement for the visitors in that loss after the sacking of Steve McClaren, and victory over Sunderland at St. James' Park on Sunday would see them leapfrog their rivals and move two points clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand.