AC Milan will look to get back into the Serie A title race in what could be captain Paolo Maldini's last game against Inter on Sunday evening, with coach Carlo Ancelotti adamant his side "can do well without Ricardo Kaka".
Lose on Sunday and Milan can effectively kiss their dreams of this season's Scudetto goodbye, as they would be cast eleven points adrift of their city rivals.
However, winning will be no easy task. Kaka is out through injury while Jose Mourinho's Inter are at full strength with Douglas Maicon named in the squad.
The Rossoneri won the first Derby della Madonnina of the season, Ronaldinho heading in the only goal, and with his side a point behind second-placed Juventus, Ancelotti is feeling optimistic.
"We are in good form, better than last September when we beat them," said the 49-year-old. "It will be an important game especially for us with regards to the league, because for Inter the result does not matter as much as for us.
"However it will be a derby game and therefore an important clash for both teams. If we play with intelligence and take advantage of their defects we can do well even without Kaka."
With the absence of top scorer Kaka, Ancelotti is expected to start with Ronaldinho alongside Alexandre Pato in attack.
His opposite number Mourinho, who will have Adriano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his starting line-up, has no selection worries ahead of the match. "I have already decided my starting eleven for tomorrow's match," the 46-year-old said. "I only have a few doubts about my bench.
"We will need great defensive concentration because it's the kind of match in which you have to pay attention to every small detail. We will have to take advantage of every scoring chance because derbies are usually very balanced games and there aren't many chances to take the lead."
With his side eight points ahead of Milan and seven in front of second-placed Juventus, Mourinho was asked about the importance of Sunday's derby. "There are fifteen matches until the end of the championship now. We are now in a phase where things are a bit more defined, where we can do a bit of mathematics."
Milan's short-term loan signing from the Los Angeles Galaxy David Beckham will take part in his first Milan derby and he is looking forward to it.
"I have great hope of the derby," Beckham, who is hoping to secure a permanent move from the MLS club, said. "I expect us to win this game and to regain the right path towards the title race."
Aside from that defeat against Milan, Inter have lost just once in Serie A all season, going down 3-1 at Atalanta in mid-January, while Mourinho has not lost a home game as a coach since 23 February 2002, when his Porto side were beaten 3-2 by Beira-Mar the Portuguese Super Liga.
This would be an inopportune moment for that record to slip, and Inter captain Javier Zanetti, playing in his 35th derby, is not taking the occasion lightly. "It is a crucial match - one that means a lot to all concerned," he said.
None more so, perhaps, than his counterpart Maldini. Now 40, the Milan captain announced plans to retire this summer, making this derby – his 55th in 25 seasons with the Rossoneri – probably his last.
"This will be my last derby on Sunday night," he said. "It's normal that the closer the end of the season comes, the more my last appearences become, in this case against Inter, but in general against all the clubs.
"Certainly playing the last derby is even more special, the nice thing is that this time we really have something to play for, since something really important is at stake.
"But it's such an important match that personal things almost come second. I still believe in our comeback and that this team can win the Scudetto."
> The whole world's eyes will be on Milan on Sunday evening as the 270th Derby della Madonnina is being televised worldwide live by international broadcasters such as the BBC, Fox, ESPN, Al Jazeera and Canal Plus. Check your local television listings for more details.