According to 78% of this season's Premier League previews today's match – Manchester City v Manchester United – will be the story of the season with the two sides duking it out all the way until the winner is declared around two weeks before next season's Premier League previews are written.
While some would have you believe this match is little more than a meaningless friendly, it should be remembered that every side that has won this match in the 2010s has gone on to take the title. It's also a chance to see how the summer's new signings slot into their teams. Last year, Chicarito marked his debut with a goal (admittedly via his face) and today will see debuts for Ashley Young and David de Gea. Roberto Mancini doesn't go in for any of this experimentation rubbish though and has named a team without Sergio Agüero. Meanwhile, it appears Danny Welbeck is now considered a more potent striker than Berbatov, who has been named on the United bench.
Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, De Jong, Silva, Y Toure, Milner, Balotelli, Dzeko. Subs: Taylor, Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson, Savic, Aguero, Barry, Clichy.
De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: Lindegaard,
Jones, Berbatov, Park, Rafael Da Silva, Evans, Cleverley.
Balotelli watch With 40 minutes to go before kick-off, Balotelli has failed to threaten to leave the club. Disappointing.
Tevez watch With 40 minutes to go before kick-off, Tevez has failed to threaten to leave the club. Disappointing.
Rooney watch With 40 minutes to go before kick-off, Rooney has failed to threaten to leave the club. Disappointing.
Weather watch Community Shield day in 2003 was the hottest day ever recorded in Britain - so hot I had to sleep in the garden until a cat jumped on my head at 4am and I got scared and moved inside. This afternoon, in contrast, is so cold I am typing this with my hoody on, dressed like I've come off the nightshift at the Tottenham riots.
1 min: And we're off. It's tipping it down over the Guardian, so expect some rain in Wembley in five minutes or so. Unless it's heading east. Don't ask me, I'm a minute-by-minuteman not a weather forecaster. Free-kick to United on the edge of the area.
3 min: All United at the moment. Rooney dances around on the edge of the area but his shot is blocked.
5 min: Ashley Young has been at the centre (or on the wing) of most of the attacks so far. A misplaced City pass leads to a United break and Young drifts in to the middle before the attack breaks down. A minute or so later, Smalling has a good chance but it ends up in the arms of Hart.
7 min: City earn their first corner of the season and waste their first corner of the season. "Mancini is on to something with his 'too much money makes you weak in the head' argument," says Gary Naylor. "That's the best explanation yet for the machinations of the financial markets these last three years."
9 min: I know this isn't technically a Premier League game but it basically is and one thing you forget in the off-season is just how fast it is. Just getting the England-fail-at-Euro-2012 excuses in early.
11 min: Singing watch: Phil Jones is yet to put a foot wrong on the bench.
13 min: United surge forward again: it's two against three but Nani decided to indulge in some early season experimentation and attempts a pass so disguised that none of his team-mates see it.
15 min: Another wasted corner for City. "Have Sky unveiled permanent replacements for Keys and Gray this season or are they still rotating through whoever is in the office at the time?," asks Ben Hendy. "And, following excellent Scott Murray's article, has Gary Neville insulted the blue half of Manchester yet?" I think he's been insulting them for the last 15 years or so.
17 min: City indulge in a spot of keep-ball until Hart hoofs it into touch. That was their longest spell of possession so far: it's been United controlling play. Here's Ryan Dunne: "Does anyone else think that Balotelli is one of City's most likeable players? As a neutral (I support the Glorious Glasgow Rangers), I have no affection for 4-5-1 catenaccio cloggers. A team of mad geniuses , on the other hand, is not hard to root for. Balotelli for City Captain!"
20 min: Dzeko and Anderson have an argument about the downgrading of the US's credit rating and they're both booked, even though Dzeko had made an excellent point about the growth in the job market. Shows how much Phil Dowd knows.
22 min: Another booking. Richards clatters into Young on the edge of the area. It wasn't cynical, just incredibly inept and nearly did Young a nasty injury. Anyway, Rooney takes and curls the shot just over.
25 min: City have been willing but disjointed so far - it's not like these are players unused to each other, their starting line-up is fairly typical of one from last season.
27 min: Nani wins a corner, talking of which ... "Nani seems to have been taking classes at the Robbie Keane school of
first touches, says David Flynn. "First touch a pass, second touch a tackle."
29 min: Best chance for City so far. Silva jabs the ball through to Milner, who's closed down by Ferdinand and drags the ball across goal, hoping for a team-mate to tap it in. No one does though.
31 min: Young beats Richards for pace but the ball beats Young for pace. Here's Gary Naylor: "With Sky still to fill the shoes of Gray and Keys and Mario and Joey struggling with the demands of playing for a football club, isn't the solution obvious? "Balotelli and Barton" is the dream team for whom Sky are holding out! I'd certainly tune in for their take on Super Sunday, even if (much like them) I can hardly be bothered with the actual Super Sunday bit any more." Yes! And each week, Joey could invite a dead revolutionary/author/engineer to come in as his studio guest and give us an inspirational quote.
35 min: Nani's free-kick flies just wide after taking a deflection off Dzeko. "Maybe it's the effect of having watched the Women's World Cup this summer, but the players look enormous to me today - it's getting more and more like basketball," says Alan Cooper. "How many of them are under 6ft?" Well, I'd say David Silva is a tad under 6 foot but City are looking particularly enormous today.
GOAL!!!!! (Man City 1-0 Man Utd, Lescott 37) What were we saying about City's height. Silva floats in a beautiful free-kick and Lescott rises to head home. There were about four other City players going for that too and United looked a little overwhelmed by their size.
39 min: Evra is booked for a push on the edge of the area. Free-kick.
41 min: Silva's free-kick again, he shoots this time and it bobbles off the wall for a corner. That'll teach him for trying to be subtle rather than resorting to lumping it up to the big men. Corner comes to nothing.
42 min: Young unleashes a shot from 30-yards out but it goes well wide.
43 min: David de Gea launched an enormous goal-kick a few minutes ago. Not only was it enormous it was also accurate. Will be interesting to see if United utilise that weapon much this season.
GOAL!!!! Man City 2-0 Man Utd (Dzeko 45)Ooof. I didn't know Dzeko did that for City. He ambles towards goal and unleashes a stinging shot from 30-yards. It's powerful and swerves but De Gea should have got a hand to it. And the United defence should have closed their opponent down.
PEEEP!!: And that's half-time. United were by far the better team for 30 minutes of that game. For all the talk of Ferguson building a team that can take Barcelona on at their own game they fell for two of the oldest sucker-punches in the book: a header from a set-piece and a lash from distance.
Half-time thoughts from you, the reader
"The perfect snip for Sky would be the delightful Tevez showing us the delightful Manchester cuisine," chortles Fred Lane.
"Was De Gea trying to get out of the way of the ball," wonders Pete Conaghan.
Some notes on Man City's height. And yes, they're quite tall. But still not exactly a basketball team. Here's Kevin Smith: "Using heights from wikipedia (except for Ferdinand's, his height wasn't listed for some reason) and including goalkeepers, Man City has an average height of 185cm while Man United is 183cm. It's not a huge difference, but City have three outfield players over 190cm while United only has one. City also have six outfield players over 1.87cm, while United only have four."
46 min: Cleverley, Jones and Evans are on for Carrick, Ferdinand and Vidic.
48 min: "If £21m is a good deal for De Gea, then could someone please define what a 'bad deal' would be?" demands Joe Mahoney. Let's give the man a chance: under the Almunia Law it takes four seasons of keeping lapses before you get the boot.
50 min: Cleverley picks out Welbeck, um, cleverly in the box but his firm header is way off-target.
GOAL!!!! Man City 2-1 Man Utd (Smalling 51) Young's excellent free-kick lands on the toe of Smalling who pokes home. Dzeko should probably have been marking him better. Well, you can't expect him to do two things well in a game.
55 min: Jonny Evans gives the ball away but then intercepts and runs half the length of the pitch. Milner's foul brings a United free-kick. He's booked.
56 min: Young lines up another free-kick but it's straight into the wall.
GOAL!!!!!!!! Man City 2-2 Man Utd (Nani 57) What a goal! Nine or 10 passes – including two backheels – are put together in around 10 seconds before Nani chips in. I'd describe it more fully but it was so intricate I'd need a good two weeks to deconstruct it in full.
60 min: Hmmm. So United can't defend against big men but it does appear their attacking movement has improved over the summer. Kolorov is booked.
62 min: A United corner flies across the box, Rooney collects and nearly whips it in. It's all United now.
64 min: City get out of their own half. "I'm in the USA watching match via internet streaming," says Gene Salorio. "Is there some British thing where the two commentators are contractually prohibited from saying anything about the other team in the match?" Come on Gene, Blackburn have been excellent in this game and the commentators have acknowledged that.
66 min: More backheels from United in the area. It was a good trick once but let's not wear out the novelty. "I went out to walk the dog at half-time, got talking to a long-winded American neighbour about the Phillies current hot steak, and came back and it's level," exclaims Justin Kavanagh. "I feel like George Best in Barcelona, or Coleridge when that farmer came to the door when he was trying to write Kubla Khan." Pesky farmers.
67 min: Adam Johnson is on for James Milner.
69 min: De Gea collects a deflected cross. Told you he isn't washed up.
71 min: United win another free-kick and Evra is off for Silva, who immediately appoints himself captain in the Frenchman's absence.
72 min: Rooney's free-kick is rammed into the wall.
74 min: Kolarov is off for Clichy. "Was Nani's goal the best scored at the new Wembley so far," asks Ben Hendy. "I don't have an encyclopaedic knowledge of new Wembley goals (I'm not Jonathan Wilson or Rob Smyth), but I'm struggling to think of a better one..." I personally liked Obafemi Martins's in the Carling Cup final but they may be down to personal prejudices.
76 min: De Gea pulls off a good save as Johnson unleashes a shot at the inside of the keeper's left-hand post.
79 min: Cleverley finds some space with quick feet but his shot isn't quite as well-crafted and flies over.
81 min: The pace of the game has dropped as the players' bodies realise they haven't played a game at full pelt for three months or so.
82 min: The TV cameras flip to a United banner decrying City's bank balance as the world's first bear-pope goes to the toilet in a black pot in the woods.
84 min: Where's Sergio Agüero? I want Sergio Agüero. I was promised Sergio Agüero.
87 min: Corner for City as Berbatov warms up just in time for full-time. Here's David Wall: "Some time ago Jonathan Wilson wrote an article on the Guardian pages arguing along the lines that television and the internet had changed the way that people played football. That is, it has led to players thinking in terms of performing tricks and things that would go on YouTube or a TV highlights reel. Thinking of United's second goal, and Barcelona's style, might you make a similar point about the console football games that they all spend their free time playing now? They think about trying to score for real the kind of goals that you can do in the game by mashing various buttons. It's just a natural progression from trying to recreate in the park the diving headers that looked so good on Sensible Soccer on the Super Nintendo." You could only score about two different goal in Sensible Soccer. Not that that stopped me playing it eight hours a day.
88 min: Welbeck is off, Berbatov is on.
89 min: Nearly a winner from Dzeko, who turns but shoots straight at De Gea.
90 min: Smalling has been excellent going forward today. He tears down the wing, crosses to Nani and when the ball eventually emerges for Cleverley he puts it over. Four minutes of added time.
90min +1: Berbatov heads over. Cross from Young was overhit.
90min +3: One last free-kick for City. Dzeko rises but heads into the ankles of a United player. Nani breaks and ...
GOAL!!!!!! Man City 2-3 Man Utd (Nani 90min+4) ... the ball was lumped forward, Nani made short work of Kompany, glided into the box and swerved past Hart to put the ball into the empty net.
PEEEEP!!!!!!!That's it. United really shouldn't have had to come back from two goals down to win that one, given their superiority in the first-half. Ferguson is determined to build a side that can attack like Barcelona, they'll need to work on their possession but were very, very dangerous today. Still, they need to work on defending ludicrously simple set-pieces.