Chelsea, the European champions and winners of last season's FA Cup, take on Manchester City, the Premier League champions, in Sunday's Community Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser to the English football season.
Both clubs have had mixed pre-seasons, with Chelsea in particular struggling for form.
Roberto Di Matteo's first pre-season in charge at Stamford Bridge began with a resounding 4-2 win over US club Seattle Sounders, in a game that saw both high-profile new signings - Eden Hazard and Marko Marin - score on their debuts. That high was swiftly followed by a draw to French club Paris St Germain (PSG) before a shock 2-3 defeat to the MLS All-Stars 2009, a 0-1 defeat to Italian club AC Milan and, to cap it all off, a miserable 1-3 defeat to Championship side Brighton.
Manchester City, meanwhile, had a poor start to their pre-season, losing 0-1 to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal and stuttering to a 0-0 draw against German club Dynamo Dresden, albeit with City teams largely composed of reserves and fringe players. Since then, however, most of the stars of Euro 2012 have returned, and Roberto Mancini has led his team to five straight wins, with City displaying the fluency that marked much of their attacking play last season. City have scored 13 goals in their last five games.
City have had an uncharacteristically quiet transfer window so far, with not a single new player being unveiled - something Mancini is distinctly unhappy about. The information coming from the club suggests that the Etihad officials are more interested, at the moment, in ensuring club accounts are better balanced and that high-earning non-performers and fringe players such as Togo's Emmanuel Adebayor, Paraguay's Roque Santa Cruz and a few others are shown the exit.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have returned to the Roman Abramovich - Jose Mourinho days of free-spending. They started quietly, with the low-key signing of German midfielder Marin before moving on to the high-profile £32m transfer of Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard. The most recent acquisition was of Brazilian midfielder Oscar and rumours linking them to Juventus' Swiss right back, Stephan Lichtsteiner, suggest more new faces could arrive.
Squad News and Probable Line-up
Chelsea will be without Marin for this game; the German is out with a hamstring injury. In addition, new signing Oscar will also not feature as he is recovering from the exertions of playing through the final of the men's football event at the London Olympics 2012. So too, probably, will Spanish winger Juan Mata.
City will miss midfielder Gareth Barry, who has failed to recover from a hip injury, while the club's Euro 2012 stars David Silva and Mario Balotelli may not play from the outset. Apart from having to consider player fatigue, Mancini will also have to do without defender Micah Richards, who was injured in the Olympics. In addition, captain Vincent Kompany may miss the match with a calf injury. City will be especially keen to pick up their first silverware of the new campaign since they lost the corresponding fixture 3-2 to Manchester United last year.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Cole, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Lampard, Obi Mikel, Meireles; Ramires, Hazard, Torres
Man City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Kolarov, Lescott, K Toure, Zabaleta; De Jong, Y Toure; Nasri, Tevez, Johnson; Aguero
Where to Watch Live
You can catch all the action from Villa Park, live, on iTV 1 and iTV HD, from 1.30pm. You can also follow the action via live commentary on Chelsea TV, from 1.22pm onwards.