On Thursday, there will be few seats that attract greater interest than this one.

A certain Alex Salmond made sure of that, when he announced on a crisp December morning in Ellon, a town 16 miles to the north of Aberdeen, his bid to return to the Commons.

When the former First Minister revealed his intention to run, he promised to "rumble up" Westminster. His successor has adopted a rather more conciliatory tone since then, with Mr Salmond having an uncharacteristically low profile. It has led to speculation that the man who in 2009 predicted that the London Parliament would be "hung by a Scottish rope" in the event of a hung parliament has been placed on a rather short leash by his new boss.

But, one way or another, he will burst back on to the scene in three days time, with media from across the UK set to descend on the Aberdeen conference centre where Mr Salmond's fate will be revealed.

For his part, he is typically confident. Mr Salmond has not hidden his disdain for the Liberal Democrats, the party that has held this seat since 1983. On being told that they were confident of hanging on last month, he advised them "to put some of their ill-gotten gains from their shady donors on at the nearest Ladbrokes and they can recover their party's fortunes."

The odds on a Salmond victory are overwhelming. If the LibDems were to take his advice and stick £100 on a victory, they would make £450 profit. The same stake on the ex-SNP leader would win them £12.50.

An Ashcroft poll, published in February, adds further weight to the notion that this will be a walk in the park for the SNP. The nationalists were 17 points ahead of the incumbents, on 43 per cent. Labour trailed with 14 per cent and the Tories were on 11.

But LibDem strategists are utterly insistent that they are in with a shout of pulling off what would be one of the stories of the election. They say that their own data shows that their candidate, the ex-journalist and lecturer Christine Jardine, has a good shout of victory.

They point to the polarising nature of Mr Salmond and claim that, just as he did during the referendum, he is struggling to win over female voters put off by a perceived abrasiveness.

For her part, Ms Jardine believes the SNP's record at Holyrood has provided her with ample ammunition. It is true that NHS Grampian has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years, while she says roads in particular have been neglected on the nationalists' watch.

Meanwhile, the county voted against independence by a margin of two to one last September and popular Sir Malcolm Bruce, who was MP for more than three decades before recently standing down, has barely left Ms Jardine's side on the campaign trail.

When The Herald visited the constituency in late March, it was clear that like in the rest of the country, Mr Salmond polarises opinion. It was not difficult to find fans - in the town of Huntly, voters lined up to say they had voted for the first time in the referendum and would be sticking with the SNP. Others, however, admitted that Mr Salmond made them less likely to support his party, even when they would consider backing the nationalists.

And, LibDems point out, who better than the former First Minister to inspire a tactical vote?

LibDems insist they are attracting support from Labour and Tory voters in surprising numbers while Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown have made explicit calls to unionists to swing behind Ms Jardine to claim the SNP's biggest scalp.

Tactical voting is dismissed by Salmond - "Many people will vote for me for tactical reasons" he has said. Shortly after announcing he was standing, he said: "If the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives put up a single candidate, then I hope they do because the SNP will beat them as well."

The notion of an informal alliance between the LibDems and the Tories, of course, was not realistic. Not least because Colin Clark, the Conservative candidate, is as dismissive of tactical votes as Mr Salmond.

A businessman and farmer running his first campaign, the father of one is said to have caught the eye of senior Tories and has been tipped to win a prominent place on the party list for Holyrood in 2016, if, as expected, he fails to pull off a mammoth upset here.

Mr Clark insists that the LibDem vote has collapsed nationally, with Gordon no exception. He insists the Tories are a natural fit for an area he describes as a "private sector business success story," where less than one per cent of the working-age population - by far the lowest in the country - claim unemployment benefit.

Labour, meanwhile, are widely seen to have little chance of making inroads, putting up 23-year-old Braden Davy, originally from Northumberland. Ukip have a candidate for the first time, in the form of Aberdeen nurse Emily Santos. But it seems, despite the Tories' best efforts, the fight here is between the LibDems and SNP.