Cognisant of the fact he will never be able to out-run Darius Vassell, Danish centre-back Martin Laursen has vowed he will out-think his former team-mate when Aston Villa meet Manchester City tomorrow.
Laursen, whose suspect hamstrings will be given a severe test by the fleet-footed Vassell, will be part of a visiting side looking to end a winless sequence of ten matches against the Mancunians and he knows stopping the Birmingham-born striker will be key to their chances.
The City forward ended his long relationship with Villa in the summer of 2005 and, while his strike record in the Midlands was far from prolific - he averaged a goal every four league games for Villa - his return for his current club has been even worse with only one every six.
But there is something about playing against the claret and blue that energises Vassell seemingly more than playing in it and in the five times the teams have met since he has moved, he has found the back of Villa's net on five occasions. Indeed a third of his City goals have come against his old employers.
Which is why Laursen, whose return to fitness from a lengthy injury lay-off has coincided with him trying to earn a new contract at Villa Park, must shackle the 26-year-old to prevent him from doing further damage.
But, for all his shortcomings, Vassell remains one of the fastest players in the Premiership and favours the sort of direct route to goal that will put him in direct opposition to Laursen.
"There is no way I can beat him over 20 metres, he is very quick," Laursen said. "I will have to be more smart than him.
"He always plays well against us. He is a Villa kid and obviously he wants to do well against us to show the people who sent him away are wrong.
"He has got family here, he knows a lot of people so he'll be up for it and want to do well."
Laursen arrived at Villa at a time when Vassell's stock was at an all-time low. The one-time England attacker returned from Euro 2004 after missing the decisive penalty in the shoot-out with Portugal.
He spent his last season at the club labouring under criticism of his manager and as a result scored only three times in 2004-5. A move away was the best option for both parties.
"David O'Leary didn't want him at the end. That's the name of the game, you have got to move on," Laursen recalls.
"We have all sat on the bench and not played. You have got to decide if you have a future at your club and if you want to wait for your chance to play or if you think there is no future you have to move on. He thought it was time to move on."
Of that there is little doubt and Vassell has been responsible more than most for the fact Villa have produced only two draws from their last ten matches against Stuart Pearce's men.
"We have the chance to end that record," Laursen says. "We want to be them, we want the three points because we are fighting with them for tenth place.
"Against Portsmouth we did everything but score, a bit like the Wigan game - when we should have had more than one. They didn't have a single chance in the whole game.
"We were frustrated that we didn't win that game, we had everything but a goal. The Uefa Cup has gone now. Our aim is to get tenth place so we can at least finish in the top half. That will be a good achievement."
Villa are only one point behind tenth-placed Blackburn Rovers at present and victory at Eastlands would not only help them overhaul that gap, it would lift them clear of City who are a further point back in 13th.
To that end manager Martin O'Neill will be able to pick from a full squad with Gabriel Agbonlahor recovered from tonsillitis and players such as Gavin McCann, Steven Davis and Gary Cahill trying to force their way into the team.
The Ulsterman is keen to stress that the former's omission against Pompey, despite his completion of a two-game ban, had nothing to do with the fact he does not want the midfielder at the club.
O'Neill said: "For me, Gavin has one year left on his contract, and it is entirely up to him what he chooses to do, but if it were up to me I would want him to be a part of this football club for the future.
"I want competition for places. I can't imagine that Gavin is happy at the moment.
"The rest of it is up to Gavin and to all those players out of the team. I want them all to come roaring back. I would suggest this is the first time that Gavin has been left out when fit."