David Moyes has suggested that Liverpool are favourites to beat his Manchester United side on Sunday.
After a six-month break, hostilities between United and arguably their biggest foes return this weekend and Moyes knows victory would give him the boost he needs going into the home straight of what has been a difficult season.
This time last year United were atop the Barclays Premier League, some 26 points ahead of Liverpool.
But the tables have turned since last summer and it is Liverpool who now lead their rivals by 11 points.
Liverpool are second in the table, four places above United, and Brendan Rodgers' men have scored 27 more goals.
Whether Moyes was trying to take the pressure off his players or not when he addressed the media on Friday is open to interpretation, but the table could not paint a clearer picture of how this season has gone.
"It may well be (accurate to say Liverpool are favourites)," the Manchester United manager said.
"Their league position suggests they're ahead of us. They possibly do come here favourites."
Moyes may have only been at Old Trafford since last summer, but he has already had two tastes of what it is like to manage Manchester United against Liverpool.
Moyes was defeated at Anfield at the start of September but three weeks later the Scot had his revenge, although the 1-0 win did come in the much-maligned Capital One Cup.
This weekend's game has much more riding it on it, giving extra spice to what Moyes concedes is an even bigger fixture in the English calendar than the Merseyside derby he saw at close quarters for over a decade when he was Everton manager.
"I think it is (the biggest game in the country)," Moyes said.
"There has been great history between the two clubs over a long period.
"It is the biggest rivalry certainly on our shores. Maybe the Celtic-Rangers game would come close to it, but I think this is the biggest game so winning would be a big boost. It would be an important three points."
While Liverpool hit the ground running this season, United have struggled to find their rhythm and realistically they need to win all their matches from now until the end of the season to have any chance of making the top four.
But Moyes has enjoyed a successful fortnight off the pitch, signing Wayne Rooney up to a new contract while also hearing of Robin van Persie's desire to extend his current deal with the club.
The club-record signing of Juan Mata has also lifted spirits and Moyes believes all the pieces of the jigsaw are finally coming together.
"There is a spring in the players' step," Moyes said.
"If you take the Olympiacos game out of it, in the last 3-5 weeks I think we have played very well, we have had some very good results. The confidence has grown and I think we are beginning to go in the right direction.
"Liverpool are having a very good season. They're our next game at home and we have to do all we possibly can to beat them."
Javier Hernandez scored the winner against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup and the Mexico striker is in contention for Sunday's game after he made encouraging progress in his return from a knee injury he suffered on international duty last week.
When asked about the possibility of Hernandez, and fellow injury doubts Jonny Evans and Rafael, playing on Sunday, Moyes said: "They're all doing fine and coming on.
"Hopefully they'll all be in with a chance of playing."
One player who also stands a chance of featuring is winger Nani, who has not been available since he suffered a hamstring injury on December 7.
"He's back," Moyes said.
"He had a really bad hamstring injury. He's back and has trained. Hopefully we get him up to speed very quickly."