Birmingham City chairman David Gold echoes the immortal words that football is "a matter more important-than life and death" in underlining the significance of Sunday's derby at St Andrew's.
Like every Blues fan, Gold will be itching to see Steve Bruce's side return to their best form after dismal backto-back defeats to Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion. Gold said: "It's as Bill Shankly said, about football not being a matter of life and death . . . it's more important than that.
"That's true for us on Sunday. It's so important to beat the Villa and Steve will have the chaps right up for it this week. We've been battered by two teams below us in the table and I know Steve simply won't let that happen again.
"He will hammer home the message all week as to just how important this game is to everyone at the club, especially the fans. Getting beaten by West Brom was relatively unimportant but this is the game that most of our fans live and die for.
"Villa have got their tails up, being ahead of us in the league and they will be looking to get their first win in a Premiership derby.
"But, by the same token, we've got a proud record to defend. We've had two weeks to prepare for this game and, although we're kicking off at noon on a Sunday, the atmosphere shouldn't be anything other than electrifying, especially if we win again.
"I know it was a bit bland the last time we played Villa on a Sunday here because of the early kick-off," said Gold, adding, with a grin: "But I'll settle it for being a very bland 3-0 this time. I'm not greedy."
Blues manager Bruce still has a lot of pondering to do as he selects his team. Mario Melchiot finally appears ready to return after a month out to make his Second City derby debut.
The Dutch defender is back in full training following the lower leg injury he sustained against Liverpool on February 12. "Mario has trained over the weekend," said Bruce. "Yesterday, he joined in with the main first-team group. We expect him to be all right for Sunday and that's good news as he's proved to be one of our big, important players."
Having said that, Blues did manage without Melchiot at Villa Park in early December when they won 2-0 despite the Dutch player being sidelined with a calf strain.
Bruce also has a doubt about the recently-returned Stan Lazaridis, who did play a prominent part in that first game at Villa Park but striker Clinton Morrison, one of only three players who can boast a full five- game unbeaten record in Second City Premiership derbies, is hoping to be involved after a recent illness.
One player extremely unlikely to feature is Villa old boy Dwight Yorke, who is believed to be close to ending his seven-month association with Blues.
"We're hoping, for Dwight's sake, and for ours, that we can find him a new club," said Gold. "I believe there are several offers open to him and I'm expecting to hear something very soon." n Darren Carter stepped up his comeback as Blues' reserves hit back to draw 2-2 at Blackburn Rovers last night.
Carter, missing for over a month with a hamstring injury, came through 72 minutes unscathed. The midfielder was booked for a first-half challenge before going off just after Sam Alsop had fired City back into the game.
The full-back scored with a free-kick which deceived Steven Drench, who was beaten again when Peter Till forced home an 89th-minute equaliser. Blackburn had led through goals from Keith Barker after 32 and 46 minutes.