1) Who defends best wins. A point that was turned into an art form by Manchester United. But the very team that created the legend – don’t concede, score late – have forgotten it. Leave alone the 1-0 loss to Wigan, it was the 4-4 draw against Everton that was all but humiliating.
When you look at Chelsea’s defensive victory over Barcelona it only serves to augment United’s terrible back play.
Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott vs Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand. Evans woeful display against Everton tips that scale in favour of City.
2) Wing backs. What should have been a United advantage has turned in to a United nightmare - on the right at least.
Rafael has been a costly let down.
What’s worse Phil Jones looks a quarter of half the player he was at the start of the season. No confidence, no surging runs, even when the spaces are wide open in front of him.
Patrice Evra is the saving grace – if he can hold his concentration, that is.
In fact Sir Alex might well consider using Antonio Valencia as wing back, and playing Nani and Ashley Young wide on either side.
City on the other hand have a wealth of wing back choices, all in form and raring to go. Micah Richards, Alexander Kolarov, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy…
3) Goal-keepers. Joe Hart does not look as invincible as he once did. And increasingly, David De Gea looks more assured. However, under aerial bombardment, Hart is the clear winner.
De Gea still looks vulnerable to crosses and corners. While neither team boasts a big target up front, United woeful goal scoring record from corners this season tip it in favour of City.
4) Midfield. Is Michael Carrick a weak link or a strong link? That may be the deciding factor. While Paul Scholes could cancel out David Silva, will Carrick have the strength to take on Nigel De Jong, or the nous to handle Yahyah Toure.
Silva can move freely because he knows the likes of De Jong, Barry or Milner will break down a counter.
When it breaks down for Scholes, can Carrick provide that cover? This may be the match in which we finally find out who Carrick really is.
5) Forwards. Will City go for a Tevez-Aguero combo or will they risk Mario Balotelli?
Balotelli has the psychological advantage over United given his performance at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
However, nobody gets up United’s nose quite like Carlos Tevez.
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck have the movement, pace, guile and understanding to destroy any defence.
Their scoring form has been brilliant and they carry a genuine threat in front of goal.
6) Bench strength. While City boast more money on their bench than any footballing team in Europe, the question is whether Mancini trusts his bench to get the job done.
The likes of Edin Dzeko and Adam Johnson seem unsettled and over-eager to impress.
Weigh that against the sprightly and lethal Javier Hernandez and the raring-to-go Tom Cleverley and perhaps United have the change factor.
There will also be Ryan Giggs, the ace in the pack who has a habit of scoring in big games for United.
7) Mind Games. Roberto Mancini can truly claim to have matched Sir Alex Ferguson in the mind games this season.
Never before has Sir Alex been so subdued ahead of a mega-derby like this.
Mancini’s clever tactic of handing the title to United – repeatedly – has taken all the pressure off his players and laid it on United. Sir Alex’s response has been muted, at best.
8) Pressure. Football pundits have repeatedly said that this game, and the title, will be won by the team that handles the pressure the best.
And they have repeatedly pointed to United as having the experience to be handle the pressure better than City.
City have not been in this position since 1968.
Yet, all the pressure seems to be on United going in to the game. What’s worse United have brought it on themselves and should the lose the title will always be remembered as the team who “let it slip”.
That is some serious pressure.
9) The Eithad. City have been in imperial form at their homeground and have made Old Trafford look like a weak excuse for a fortress.
The City supporters – Poznan included – have been in magnificent voice all season and have already been treated once to a United humbling.
Now, they want it all.
10) History. Sir Alex has seen off challenges to United’s dominance from the likes of Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.
Roberto Mancini is next in line.
Sir Alex usually wins in the end. At least that’s what history says.