Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy is the sort of amiable, civilised chap who would, whatever the circumstances, have made a special point of welcoming any new fellow manager to the Black Country.
But the last place he expected to be shaking new West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray's hand for the first time was just before kick-off at a Black Country derby.
McCarthy will take his Wolves team to meet Mowbray's Baggies at The Hawthorns on Sunday proud of the fact that he has surpassed all expectations by reaching fourth place in the Championship table. But even a man like McCarthy, who has seen it all before, admits to being shocked at the circumstances which have dictated that Albion go into Sunday's derby with a new manager at the helm for the first time, yet are third in the table.
"It's bizarre for Tony coming in now," McCarthy said. "A new manager usually comes in when things are going badly and you try to turn it around. He's come in when things are going swimmingly.
"I saw him say the other day that he's not going to do anything radical. Well, you wouldn't, would you?
"It's a bit of a strange situation they've got down there.
"They've got a squad who expected to be where they are now all season long. And it was only three or four games ago since everything was supposedly going wrong.
"But, when all's said and done, it's just three results since Bryan Robson's gone which have got them back where they're expected to be. And, if Bryan had been there, they might have got them anyway, because it's still the same staff who have had those results.
"Now they're up into third, everything's been hyped up again and, with us fourth, it makes for a great game."
Regardless of what has gone before at The Hawthorns, what might happen on Sunday and how events will turn out over the remainder of the season, McCarthy is adamant that Albion appear to have got themselves another good'un.
Like McCarthy (and Coventry City manager Micky Adams), it means that West Midlands football has taken on another tough, Millstone grit-hardened Yorkshireman. But it's what Mowbray has done north of the border that has most caught the eye.
"He's got a great record up at Hibernian," McCarthy said. "And he's highly regarded up in Scotland.
"As a player, he was a hard, straight-forward competitor. And, as a manager, if you saw what Martin O'Neill said when he got the job I think that was a ringing endorsement for anybody. 'Grudging admiration' were the words he used, I think, for the way he took points off him at Celtic."
As for who will come out on top in the navy blue and white heat of The Hawthorns on Sunday, the very fact that Mowbray and McCarthy have had a spell at Parkhead on their football CVs may help keep Sunday's 'parochial affair' in perspective.
"They tell me it's a big derby," McCarthy said. "But you get told everywhere you go in the country that they've got the biggest derby and it makes me laugh. I've been involved in a few and, believe me, Rangers v Celtic is the biggest.
"There was a time when I used to think Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday was the biggest. Then I played in a Manchester derby.
"I also did Lyon v St Etienne. That was a bit of a vicious one, as they didn't particularly like each other. And Millwall v West Ham, that's a bit of an iffy one. And Sunderand v Newcastle, that's not exactly a little game.
"But whatever you say about any other derby game, the one on Sunday is our biggest game and that's all that matters for now."
From his own experience of scoring in a Manchester derby, McCarthy also knows all too well the thin divide between hell and glory that epitomises derbies.
"I'm not trying to play down the pressure or the importance of it when I say that at the end of the day it's only three points," he said.
"But when you're playing in it, to score in it, or if you even score the winner in it, be it a Wolves player or a West Brom player, then you're the hero and it's a wonderful feeling. They're great to play in but you only ever enjoy the following week if you've had a good result.
"For the home team that's a win. For the away team that's not getting beat. And, if you can do that, then you enjoy it.
"I played in some for Celtic that we won and some we lost, like I did at other clubs. But, right back to my days with Barnsley, I didn't try any harder just because we were playing Wednesday than I did when we playing against York, Blackpool or Wimbledon.
"All that it affects is the 'smile factor' after."