Separated by just one point - and last season by only one Serie A place - near neighbours Atalanta BC and Inter Milan clash in Bergamo on Sunday, with both pride and a place on the coat-tails of leaders AC Milan at stake.
Dispiriting defeats for either side in Champions League action during the week should not dampen fans' anticipation of this potentially end-to-end encounter between two of the top six.
Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia will host a game of relatively high stakes considering the early stage in the season, due to both clubs' recent inconsistency - the extent of which is thrown into sharp relief by their excellent 2019-20 campaigns.
Despite their recent ascendancy to continental contenders, Atalanta have won just one of their last seven Serie A games against traditional heavyweights Inter - a 4-1 victory in November 2018 - and have failed to score in four of the last six meetings between the pair.
Even for a team that seems to have goals on tap, La Dea must be concerned about the inherent leakiness of their back three this season, particularly without regular goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini behind them. Gian Piero Gasperini's men have now conceded in each of their last nine Serie A games - their previous longest run in the top-flight without a clean sheet was 12 matches in August 2015.
The Nerazzurri have so far shipped 15 goals in all competitions - they only conceded seven in their first nine matches last term. This season's 'against' column represents their worst tally at this point since 2011-12 and only two times previously had they conceded more at this stage of the season in their long and illustrious history - both of which were back in the pre-war era.
After salvaging a late, late 2-2 draw against Parma, conceding three to Champions League rivals Real Madrid on Tuesday evening was another blow for Antonio Conte's failing back line, though the absence of Romelu Lukaku up front also provided a substantial void to fill.
Being hammered by English champions Liverpool, meanwhile, was hardly the ideal preparation for Atalanta either. Their five-goal defeat to Jurgen Klopp's rampant team has left the Bergamo side reeling, particularly as some key players - including first choice wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens - are now in doubt for Inter's visit.
Both bosses, then, are under pressure to produce a result this weekend. Intriguingly, both each has experienced life in the opposite dugout, as Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini once managed Inter (for a measly three Serie A games) and Antonio Conte's first 13 matches in management were at the helm of Atalanta.
The current Nerazzurri coach is unbeaten against his former club in the league, with a comprehensive record of seven wins and a draw to date, so will at least be confident of adding to their recent defensive woes during Inter's seventh game in 20 days.
Likewise, Atalanta's 'super sub' Luis Muriel particularly enjoys taking on Sunday's opponents. The Colombian striker has scored five goals with four different teams against Inter (Lecce, Udinese, Sampdoria and Fiorentina) and is undoubtedly hoping to be set loose on a back three in flux.
The most recent Serie A fixture between these two sides resulted in a 2-0 victory for Inter and Conte would gratefully take a repeat scoreline this time around. Following recent trends though, it is unlikely that either side will keep their sheet clean in this clash of the Lombardy Nerazzuro.
Atalanta BC Serie A form: WWWLLW
Atalanta BC form (all competitions): LWLDWL
Inter Milan Serie A form: WWDLWD
Inter Milan form (all competitions): LDWDDL
Midfielders Stefano Sensi and Matias Vecino are still injured for Inter but Alexis Sanchez has reportedly recovered from injury and will be considered to start or come off the bench in support of Lautaro Martinez.
Nicolo Barella should start as the most advanced midfielder - he has registered four assists already and is fast becoming one of Antonio Conte's first names on the team sheet, close behind Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian striker was expected to miss out due to a lingering thigh injury but his manager indicated on Saturday that the ex-Manchester United man will at least make the bench.
Atalanta's Hans Hateboer and Cristian Romero played in the evisceration by Liverpool but are still hampered by thigh problems, while Robin Gosens and Marten De Roon are particularly doubtful. All four trained individually on Friday, apart from the main group, so Johan Mojica and Fabio Depaoli are set to deputise out wide for La Dea.
Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Sportiello; Toloi, Romero, Djimsiti; Depaoli, Pasalic, Freuler, Mojica; Gomez; Ilicic, Zapata
Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Vidal, Young; Perisic, Martinez
We say: Atalanta BC 2-3 Inter Milan
Goals are almost a locked-in guarantee during this clash of entertainingly inconsistent teams, as both sides fail to settle on a consistent defensive lineup.
Even if the ever dependable Romelu Lukaku is not quite fit enough to start, Inter have the resources to take apart Atalanta's frail rearguard. Not without a number of scares at the other end though - Colombian sharpshooters Duvan Zapata and substitute deluxe Luis Muriel are poised to strike back in kind.