Ahead of Saturday's huge derby at Old Trafford, Manchester United have been priced up at 16/1 to finish above rivals Manchester City.
On 13th August, Manchester City had won their second Premier League game and scored their sixth Premier League goal.
Manchester United, meanwhile, had lost their second Premier League game and conceded their sixth Premier League goal.
The gulf between the two sides was perhaps as stark as it had ever been. United kicked off the campaign at home to Brighton with Fred and Scott McTominay still starting together in midfield, before a trip to Brentford with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line, and their price for relegation had been cut to an alarming 25/1, with the Reds as short as 10/3 to finish in the bottom half.
Lisandro Martinez’s height had immediately presented itself as a major concern, Ronaldo looked lost, David de Gea looked a liability; there were gaping holes all over the pitch.
The idea that Manchester United would take more points than their inter-city rivals in the following four months seemed utterly impossible.
Perhaps United, and Erik ten Hag, needed the nightmare start for things to get better. Would the Reds have moved for Casemiro if not for the two defeats? Would United even be in the top four right now if not for Casemiro? His first start on 9th October against Everton marked a real turning point for Ten Hag's side.
Guardiola had seemingly reinvented City once again, getting the best out of Erling Haaland whilst deploying his full-backs almost as central midfielders when attacking.
From that point, however, things took a dramatic shift, with United reeling off four straight wins, including victories against Liverpool and Arsenal, before being brought back down to earth at the Etihad.
Indeed, only two late goals from Anthony Martial prevented United from being on the receiving end of another 6-1 battering by City.
The defeat prompted the introduction of Casemiro into the starting XI, and United haven’t looked back.
Since the humbling at the start of October, Ten Hag’s side have taken four more points than their neighbours having played one more game, and look as good as anyone else in the league.
The back four looks settled, with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez forming a terrific partnership, while Casemiro and Christian Eriksen are complementing each other just as well in midfield.
Season Match Bet odds
Yet for City, something seems amiss.
Despite a defence that cost in excess of £250m, they’re conceding almost a goal a game, albeit from an xGA of 0.72 per 90 – not considerably better or worse than their previous four seasons.
Despite adding the world’s best striker – who’s already scored a ridiculous 21 goals in 16 games – to what was already the world’s most potent attack, they’re five points behind leaders Arsenal as we approach the halfway stage.
It’s an enormous month for the top three sides in the league; Manchester City have just beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but have Manchester United at Old Trafford this weekend before facing Tottenham home and away with a trip to the Emirates still to come.
Arsenal have the North London derby on Sunday, a week before facing Manchester United at home before hosting Manchester City in mid-February.
And Manchester United have their neighbours next (7/2 to win) before trips to Arsenal and Leeds all in the next four weeks. They’re not part of the title race yet, but if they can win those three and Arsenal and City drop points elsewhere, they just might be.