Manchester City find themselves 10 points adrift of leaders Manchester United ahead of their Super Sunday showdown with Liverpool.
The Red Devils moved seven clear at the top of the Premier League courtesy of their 2-1 success against Southampton in midweek, 24 hours after the champions were held to a 0-0 draw at QPR.
Despite the gap which is opening with 14 games of the season remaining, City will highlight the fact that they famously over-turned an eight-point deficit in the closing stages of the last campaign.
Roberto Mancini elected not to make any additions to his squad during the January transfer window, but there was one high-profile departure as Mario Balotelli returned to Italy with AC Milan.
Liverpool remain a work in progress under Brendan Rodgers, with their thrilling 2-2 draw against Arsenal in midweek encapsulating what they have achieved and what still needs to be done.
The Reds took a 2-0 lead at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, helped in no small part by some awful defending from the Gunners, only to allow the hosts back into the contest and have to settle for a share of the spoils.
The dream of a return to the UEFA Champions League remains alive, with Rodgers' men seven adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham, but their days of challenging for the Premier League title are but a distant memory at present.
Manchester City are again without captain Vincent Kompany for Sunday's clash at the Etihad Stadium as he remains sidelined by a calf injury.
The champions are hopeful Matija Nastasic (knee), who could only make the bench at QPR in midweek, will be fit to start, otherwise midfielder Javi Garcia may again have to deputise.
Right-back Maicon (knee) is back in training and could soon be available while fellow defender Micah Richards (knee) hopes to return this month. Midfielder Yaya Toure and defender Kolo Toure are still on international duty, while Balotelli has departed for AC Milan.
Liverpool boss Rodgers must decide whether to thrust new signing Philippe Coutinho into the fray for the meeting with the champions.
Coutinho completed his move to Anfield from Inter Milan in midweek but is likely to be given more time to acclimatise to life in his new surroundings.
Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique all returned from injury for the midweek draw at Emirates Stadium and can expect to be involved again this weekend.