The historic Derby della Madonnina takes place at San Siro this Saturday evening amid some of the most curious circumstances in its long and illustrious history.
This time, Inter Milan play 'hosts' at the famous old stadium they share with city rivals AC Milan, wracked by news of positive COVID-19 tests for several players - including ex-England winger Ashley Young.
Stefano Pioli's resurgent Milan side, meanwhile, have started the domestic season with three straight wins against modest opposition to sit atop the early Serie A standings and have progressed through the early Europa League rounds - though only by the skin of their teeth against plucky Portuguese outfit Rio Ave.
With Inter's preparations in turmoil due to quarantining players and the late return of South American stars Lautaro Martinez, Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez from international duty, the Nerazzuri's derby day winning streak of four in Serie A could potentially come to an end.
Although whichever XI is fielded by Conte will be far from short of quality, the destabilising effects of recent days' events could tip the balance - particularly given that he will have had only one full day to work with his remaining squad.
With irrepressible front pair Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez still in tandem, however, Inter will at least expect to find the net in what could well be a high-scoring edition of Italy's most evocative fixture.
A summer period of consolidation - as coach Pioli was unexpectedly retained following fine post-lockdown form and key players stayed put - has seen their eternal rivals Milan perhaps start to close a gap which seemed so stark between them at the start of the calendar year.
Hakan Calhanoglu, too, has thrived under Pioli's watch. The sublimely gifted Turkey playmaker will look to dictate from between the lines in the advanced 'number 10' role which most suits his abundant talents. Since football resumed, he has been directly involved in 14 goals (six goals and eight assists) - second only to Lionel Messi in that period.
Midfield could be a key battleground, as African pair Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer will attempt to suppress combative Inter pair Nicolo Barella and Arturo Vidal. Calhanoglu and Inter's Marcelo Brozovic provide silk alongside the steel.
Of course, ageless icon 'King' Zlatan Ibrahimovic would enjoy nothing more than getting one over on his former club as he looks to inspire his side to a fourth straight league win and bring Inter's derby monopoly to an abrupt halt. He recently became the oldest player in Serie A history to reach double figures of goals within six months.
Milan resumed last season with a bang by turning over the likes of Roma, Lazio and champions Juventus. Now they sit near the top of the nascent 2020-21 Serie A standings.
During that period, the Rossoneri have scored 35 goals in 12 games, registering nine wins and three draws in the process. Could the time be ripe for a change in their derby fortunes?
Inter Milan Serie A form: WW
AC Milan Serie A form: WWW
AC Milan form (all competitions): WWWWDW
Alessandro Bastoni, Roberto Gagliardini, Milan Skriniar, Radja Nainggolan and Ionut Radu all join Young in observing quarantine measures in the wake of positive tests. Therefore, Antonio Conte's Inter team may virtually pick itself for the fans' most anticipated game of the season.
Nonetheless, last season's Europa League runners-up enjoy such squad depth, since an intense period of recruitment over the past 18 months, that it will still be a formidably experienced side that takes the field at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Ivan Perisic and Hakimi should take the wing-back slots and Christian Eriksen will again hope to earn some rare minutes, having lately become a shadow of his former self; languishing on the bench more often than not.
Pioli's Milan also have significant defensive issues to resolve too, as Leo Duarte, Mateo Musacchio, Andrea Conti and Matteo Gabbia are expected to miss out. Even assistant coach Daniele Bonera - a former Rossoneri defender himself - will watch from home after a positive COVID-19 test.
Fortunately for Il Diavolo, skipper Alessio Romagnoli will be fit to helm a slightly makeshift back line, having fully recovered from a previous calf injury.
Rafael Leao flourished last time out, notching a brace in the second half of Milan's win over Spezia, and should feature - though most likely from the bench. That is because talismanic target man Zlatan Ibrahimovic used social media to boldly declare himself recovered from COVID-19 and is now available for selection.
Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; De Vrij, D'Ambrosio, Kolarov; Hakimi, Brozovic, Vidal, Barella, Perisic; Lukaku, Martinez
AC Milan possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers; Ibrahimovic
We say: Inter Milan 2-2 AC Milan
Inter's derby domination in recent times is under serious threat from their resurgent rivals this time. Defensive issues and selection concerns - particularly in the absence of Skriniar and Bastoni - may see the Nerazzuri finally come unstuck.
However, they are capable of scoring from any quarter and are still capable of slowing the Milan revival somewhat by snatching a point in challenging circumstances.
Watch sparks fly on the flanks and expect returning 'King' Zlatan to have a significant say in the outcome.