With Manchester City dominant in the Barclays Premier League this season, the FA Cup could just be Manchester United's best chance of silverware, especially when they can eliminate their bitter rivals at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated clash, ESPNSTAR.com takes a look at the duels that could influence the outcome of the match.
Joe Hart vs Anders Lindegaard
With both sides possessing a wealth of attacking talent, there's no denying that there will be a glut of goalscoring opportunities on Sunday. And that's where the game could just be won or lost off a goalkeeper's saves.
For now, Hart remains one of the best stoppers in England, and has already earned a handful of points for City in the league this season, after outstanding performances in games against Arsenal and Liverpool.
On the other hand, the goalkeeping department has been one area that has regularly troubled Sir Alex Ferguson this season, especially with £18million summer signing David de Gea failing to impress despite the reputation he arrived with.
When he has been dropped, Danish number two Anders Lindegaard has deputised admirably, but he too looked rather hapless in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to Newcastle. But considering De Gea conceded six against City earlier this season, expect Lindegaard to be given the nod on Sunday.
Still, a clear win for City in the goalkeeping stakes.
Gael Clichy vs Nani
Normally one of United's main creative outlets, Nani has been rather poor of late and has failed to impose himself on the opposition.
However, he does have a good record against the Citizens, tearing them to shreds in the Community Shield at the start of this season with a clinical second-half brace. His second goal of that game saw him captalise on a mix-up between Vincent Kompany and Gael Clichy, racing through on goal before rounding Hart and tapping into an empty net.
As he regularly switches between flanks during a game, Nani is likely to come up against Clichy once again on Sunday, a player known for his indecisiveness in defence, which Nani will be looking to exploit.
Nonetheless, while the Frenchman fails to provide City assurance at the back, he makes up for it by offering them a real weapon in attack. Considering Nani's disinclination for helping out in defence, Clichy could very well get one over the Portuguese and hurt United on one of his attacking forays.
David Silva vs Park Ji-sung
An early-season contender for both the PFA Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year awards, Silva has been the playmaker-in-chief for City, weighing in with five goals and ten assists in the league alone.
When in full flight, the dimunitive Spaniard is almost unstoppable but earlier this season, Everton managed to restrict his influence by getting the tenacious Jack Rodwell to man-mark him.
United's chances of winning the game will be significantly boosted if they can do the same, but there appears to be a dearth of players capable of playing that role, especially with Darren Fletcher, Ferguson's normal go-to guy in such situations, out indefinitely.
One player who has the aerobic capacity to match Silva is Park, but he lacks the defensive awareness that Fletcher provides, although he is ever-willing to help out at the back. Sir Alex is known to advocate zonal marking, but City's star forward is one player worth sacrificing a man for.
Vincent Kompany vs Wayne Rooney
While City's attack has been garnering much of the applause this season, the only reason why they can venture with such panache and regularity is because there is a solid foundation at the back to prevent them from being susceptible to counter-punches.
And Kompany is the one man who has been holding City's defence together. Only on Tuesday, the towering Belgian completely cleared away everything that Liverpool threw at the Citizens, even making a goal-saving block to deny Dirk Kuyt from two yards out.
Kompany seems to relish the crunch fixtures and really steps up to the plate when there's plenty on the line. A place in the fourth round of the FA Cup and, perhaps more importantly, bragging rights will be at stake at the Etihad Stadium. And while Rooney has been slightly off-form of late, he too regularly comes to the fore in big matches.
Sir Alex might be tempted to start with a five-man midfield, meaning Rooney will play as a lone striker, where he will come up directly against Kompany, which should provide an enthralling subplot to the game. If United are adventurous and play two up front, Rooney will drop deep and look to create for the Red Devils, meaning Kompany will have to make sure someone picks the England international up when he drifts in between midfield and defence.
Sergio Aguero vs Rio Ferdinand
Aguero has been City's top striker this season so far with sixteen goals in twenty starts, and already looks a bargain at just £38million. Having netted in midweek against Liverpool, City coach Roberto Mancini is likely to reward the Argentinean with another start against the Red Devils.
And with his pace and dribbling ability, Aguero appears the best choice to trouble the ageing Ferdinand, who is no longer as fast as he used to be, and is looking increasingly suspect at the back.
The veteran United defender will be hoping his defensive partner Phil Jones will be able to help him out. But with City playing at home, Mancini is likely to field either Edin Dzeko or Mario Balotelli - if fit - as well, meaning Jones will have his hands full, leaving Ferdinand in a one-on-one duel with Aguero.
And make no mistake - that is one battle the 33-year-old will not be relishing.