The two clubs who between them have won every Premier League title bar one in the past nine years face off tomorrow night and yet, rather than the game, Manchester United and Chelsea are busy talking transfers and, more tellingly, transfer rights and wrongs.
David Moyes still hasn't signed anyone of note and, as the hours tick away, is taking his battle to the media. After his old club, Everton, turned down a £28 million joint bid for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, calling it "derisory" and "insulting", he fired back.
"I ... know that if I'd been Everton manager and Sir Alex had come asking for [Baines and Fellaini] I'd have found it very difficult to keep them because I always felt the right thing to do was what was right for the players," he said, before chastising Everton for making the bid public.
Moyes is not just a good manager, by all accounts he's a good person too - a rarity in the modern game - but he got this one all wrong. First of all, his scenario probably says more about himself and Sir Alex and the relationship between them. Maybe he wouldn't have stood in the way of "doing the right thing" - Sir Alex's bidding in this case - but Roberto Martinez is a different person. He hasn't spent a decade at Goodison Park (he's a guy who got relegated last year and has scratched and clawed to get where he is). Nor is the Manchester United manager his de facto mentor.
He's perfectly entitled to do what he's paid to do: look out for Everton's best interests. If he's not selling Fellaini and Baines for a price United like, it's not because he's trying to damage their careers. He's simply trying to extract the best possible price and, presumably, he's well aware of the consequences. Like the fact that the players could throw a strop if they don't get their way. Or that their legs could snap in two come September 3 and Everton will have thrown £28m out the window.
Talk about being thrown in at the deep end. As if the transfer debacles weren't enough, Moyes has also had to deal with the Wayne Rooney issue. And a managerial statement which made his look mundane. Jose Mourinho announced that, out of respect for Manchester United, Chelsea would not be making another bid for Rooney until Tuesday, after tomorrow's match. The reference to Alan Pardew's rant about Arsenal's bid for Yohan Cabaye - made public the day Newcastle were facing Manchester City and prompting the Frenchman to sit out - wasn't lost on anyone.
It was classic Mourinhospeak, fodder for the knee-jerk masses. It's also incredibly moot, unless - along with your belief in the tooth fairy - you really think Rooney and his entourage of agents are unaware that Chelsea are bidding for him. Or that Chelsea would bid without talking to Rooney's camp first and making sure all their ducks are in a row. Or, indeed, that Rooney is the type of player who would be "unsettled" by something like this.
But suspend disbelief on all these points for a minute. Any rational analysis of the situation would suggest that by speaking so publicly, Mourinho is doing the opposite of what he's pretending to do. Are we really to believe that Rooney would be "unsettled" if a bid comes in for him on the day of a match but not if he knows the bid will come in the following day?
There's two ways to read this kind of behaviour. You can conclude that cracks are starting to appear and the pressure is getting to these guys. Or that they're playing some kind of writ-large poker, all mis-direction and feints, serving up stuff for the media to feast on while they quietly get on with their business elsewhere.
Speaking of Jose Mourinho, the hijack and subsequent £32m capture of Willian - swept away by Chelsea after completing his medical at Tottenham - raises all sorts of questions about his squad.
Mourinho reiterated that he likes having a squad of 22 players. Right now, he has 26, of which four are goalkeepers. Willian makes 27 and Rooney (or the "Plan B" striker he talked about, possibly Samuel Eto'o, whom imploding Anzhi Makhachkala are pushing out of the door to save money) 28. Lose a keeper (Jamal Blackman, since Petr Cech is untouchable, Mark Schwarzer just arrived and Henrique Hilario just extended his contract), Victor Moses (on his way to Everton) and the youngster Tomas Kalas (on loan) and you're back to 25. Assuming he keeps three strikers, one out of Demba Ba or Romelu Lukaku (on loan) could go.
But that leaves you at 24. Which is why there's so much speculation around Juan Mata. Mourinho reiterated that he's not for sale, but it's as plain as day that Chelsea already have a glut of attacking midfielders and Willian adds one more body to the mix.
More to the point, Chelsea were already £25m down in the transfer market before Willian. Throw in Rooney and we're approaching £90m. Even if they claw something back for Ba, it's not what the beancounters want to see in the Financial Fair Play era. Mata should fetch north of £30m.
Which suggests that, unless they decide - as Paris St Germain apparently have - that FFP is just some practical joke, Mata will go.
Serie A kicked off this past weekend with Juventus - having picked up a new strike force of Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez - overwhelming favourites to make it three titles in a row.
But this should be a much harder-fought race, not least because Europe will be the overriding priority for the "bianconeri" and it remains to be seen whether the new partnership will work.
Rafa Benitez has rebuilt Napoli after the departure of Edinson Cavani with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon. Milan, who finished strong, will have the services of Mario Balotelli for more than just half a season. Fiorentina arguably played some of the best football in Europe and will have a de facto new strike tandem in Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi (back to fitness after an 18-month lay-off). And then there are Roma and Inter, who are trying to rebuild with youth.
As ever, we are nowhere near the heyday of 15 years ago. But the sooner Serie A stops being compared to that era, the quicker folks will realise they continue the climb out of the hole they dug for themselves.