Since his return to the Metz dugout in October, Frederic Antonetti - one of the most charismatic coaches in the French game - has overseen a renaissance in the Lorraine club's fortunes. The 59-year-old Corsican has certainly shifted from his role as general manager back to the top job, in place of his old assistant Vincent Hognon, to great effect.
Five clean sheets in their last eight matches have helped propel Les Grenats into a top-half position, as Antonetti has instilled defensive discipline into the team - their record of conceding 20 goals in 22 matches so far is only bettered by the division's top three sides - Lille, Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain.
After stunning Lyon 1-0 a fortnight ago, Metz have since enjoyed a 2-0 victory over Nantes and beaten Brest 4-2 away from home - when they only had around a third of possession - thereby extending their unbeaten streak this year to five.
Despite top scorer Ibrahima Niane succumbing to a serious knee injury just days after Antonetti's appointment in the autumn, Metz now sit sixth, on 34 points. While Niane remains the club's top scorer with six goals, followed by Farid Boulaya with five and Aaron Leya Iseka on four, their ongoing defensive frugality has seen them exceeding expectations.
The previous Ligue 1 fixture with Montpellier saw Metz triumph 2-0 at Stade de la Mosson in December and Les Grenats have, in fact, remained unbeaten in the sides' last three meetings.
Montpellier suffered a 2-1 home defeat against Lens in their last Ligue 1 outing on Saturday, extending their current winless streak to eight with only two points earned during that spell.
Their recent travails have seen Michel Der Zakarian's men slide down to 11th place, now six points behind Wednesday's opponents.
Though hitting the net has rarely proved a problem for the 2011-12 league champions - with Andy Delort scoring on nine occasions to date - Montpellier have leaked more than 40 goals, worse even than second-bottom Dijon, who they will face on Sunday.
Der Zakarian's ageing defence - marshalled by 43-year-old Hilton and 35-year-old Daniel Congre have conceded 20 goals in their last eight matches, and they are yet to post a first clean sheet of the season on home turf.
On their travels though, Montpellier have picked up a respectable four wins and three draws from ten games, but have stumbled into a three-match winless streak away from home.
In search of their first league victory in meetings between these two sides since February 2018, Montpellier will be desperate to halt their disastrous start to 2021 with a long overdue win on Wednesday evening.
Metz Ligue 1 form: LDDWWW
Montpellier HSC Ligue 1 form: LLDLLL
Metz coach Frederic Antonetti has been successfully managing a considerable list of absentees, with Habib Maiga, Vincent Pajot, Opa Nguette, Kevin N'Doram, and long-term injury victim Ibrahima Niane all unavailable last time out.
Ivory Coast midfielder Maiga may be ready for a return though, with the hosts otherwise expected to name a settled side in front of goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja, who was statistically one of Europe's top stoppers of 2020 and accounts for much of Metz's defensive solidity.
For the visitors, Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin was handed a two-game suspension for his red card against PSG, so Dimitry Bertaud will have the chance to continue as Montpellier's last line of defence.
The ankle injury that Florent Mollet suffered last week ruled him out of the Lens game and his participation remains in doubt, while Teji Savanier's return from suspension means that Joris Chotard could drop out of the first XI.
Star striker Andy Delort has been suffering with a thigh problem and while there is hope that the Algeria international could return in time to face Dijon next weekend, he may not be fit to start on Wednesday.
Metz possible starting lineup:
Oukidja; Bronn, Fofana, Boye; Centonze, Angban, Sarr, Udol; Boulaya; Leya, Ambrose
Montpellier HSC possible starting lineup:
Bertaud; Sambia, Mendes, Congre, Hilton, Oyongo; Dolly, Ferri, Savanier; Laborde, Mavididi
We say: Metz 1-1 Montpellier HSC
Two teams on very different trajectories meet on Wednesday, with the hosts growing used to the previously rare position of favourites.
Despite boasting one of the league's best defences up against one of the worst, Metz may be held to a draw this time, as Montpellier's losing streak surely must end soon.