Label next Monday's Premier League title decider at the Etihad Stadium what you like; clash of the titans, summit meeting, there is no getting away from the fact the match represents one of the biggest in the division's 20-year history.

During a period where the Premier League are celebrating such an anniversary, it is fitting that a match which incubuses all that the league stands for; excitement, drama and tension, could in years to come be regarded as the league's premier moment.

The financial strength of Manchester City and the staying power of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson means next week's meeting is unlikely to be the last that proves crucial in the next 20 years of the Premier League, and therefore a long and eventful rivalry is certainly in the offing.

The self-professed best league in the world has enjoyed a series of outstanding duels through its two-decade history, with Liverpool and United often the headline act. The geographical distance between the two coupled with the pair's league title success, has helped make this as great a battle as any in the top flight.

Phil Jones and Sergio Aguero
City and United will do battle on Monday.

Ferguson stated upon joining United that he wanted to knock Liverpool off their perch. That statement alone set in motion the rivalry we experience today.

However, the Scot now feels differently. Perhaps reflected by the winds of change blowing through English football and not least because of The Reds' dramatic decline since falling out of the Champions League, but Ferguson now considers City to be United's major foe.

"We have to get used to playing City in important games. They are not going away," said Ferguson.

"The financial support they have means we will be playing them, in a lot of big games; cup finals maybe, semi-finals. It's there.

"If we are going to be contesting for league titles regularly, and I think we will be doing, it will become just as important as the Liverpool game. Maybe not in terms of the emotional part, because the Liverpool-United games are emotional, but certainly in importance.

"Probably at this moment in time it supersedes the Liverpool games in the sense that [City] are our direct opponents now. Manchester City are, without question, up against us to win titles and that is what I focus on. I only focus on the team that can actually affect our progress in terms of winning."

Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson believes City are United's biggest rivals.

It's an odd admission from Ferguson, who has often been quick to downplay the efforts of their near neighbours, while his tributes to Liverpool have been few and far between.

Ferguson may need to build up future City clashes, but with the Anfield club, the game's enormity can't be added to.

And that is exactly the reason why, at least for the next few years, Liverpool's rivalry with United will always outstrip City's. Only the blue half of Manchester's current form season upon season will retain the same edge on the fixture, despite the fight for local pride.

Liverpool v United, brings together English football's two most successful clubs and any season, any time, it commands top billing.

Not until City can add regular silverware and subsequently reach the heights of Liverpool and United can they regard their rivalry to be on a similar level.

Often accused of being above their station, this time it's Ferguson who's setting City's perch too high. Raising their profile only to knock them down? Sounds like the perfect set-up from the United manager.