Monday night's Manchester derby is in no need of Sky's traditional clamour and melodrama to hype up its importance. It has already been lampooned with a tip of the hat to the Bangles as Manic Monday, Manc Monday and even Momentous Monday but the scheduling has more to do with both clubs' short-lived demotion to the Europa League and Monday's Manchester marathon than any nefarious marketing ploy. Yet it has brought the broadcaster back to its roots.
When the Premier League was launched in August 1992 the UK was still three years away from liberalising the Sunday licensing laws and pubs were still forced to close at 2.30pm. Little wonder then that for the first three years of its exclusive contract to screen live matches, Sky attempted to make its Monday night package its flagship show both as a communal experience to be shared by those without subscriptions and as a sales pitch to persuade them to pay for the rights to watch games at home.
In its first season Sky imported the American razzmatazz that had made ABC's Monday Night Football NFL show such an institution. The notorious half-time entertainment for games on that night in 1992-93 featured the Sky Strikers dancing troupe and there was a post-match firework display, too. Widespread ridicule from people who had, on sufferance, tolerated the Dagenham Girl Pipers for decades prompted Sky to accept that the sight of cheerleaders belting out Toni Basil's Mickey and hectoring fans to join in on a November evening at Boundary Park was incongruous at best.
The experiment in supporter manipulation was ditched after one season and by 1995, with all-day drinking now on the statute books, Sunday games became the most prominent vehicle for the broadcaster's coverage under an ever more grandiloquent series of titles, ranging from the generic Super Sunday, through Showdown Sunday to the strident Grand Slam Sunday for double headers.
Monday Night Football, despite the annexation of Andy Gray's Boot Room into the show, which analysed the weekend's matches with the help of the latest gizmos in a feast of amuse-bouches before the main course, became something of a backwater. Key games were still scheduled on Monday occasionally – Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Newcastle at St James' Park in 1996 perhaps the most significant – but the expansion of the Champions League at the end of that decade made it a day largely for the also-rans.
For three seasons from 2007 to 2010, the rights were owned first by Setanta and then by ESPN, the former utilising James Richardson's magnificent facility with a pun to enliven Football Matters with its replica-shirted supporters' parliament orgy of phone-in show wisdom.
When it returned to Sky last season, Richard Keys and Gray resumed their roles in their high-tech Isleworth tactical bunker until their comments about Sian Massey and other leaked footage ushered them into the arms of TalkSport.
This season the show has been the preserve of Ed Chamberlin and Gary Neville, who quickly mastered the technology and provides insider's insights into strategy and the players' psychology. Neville also doubles up as an astute pundit, excitable at times as he demonstrated with his "goalgasm" celebration of Fernando Torres's late equaliser for Chelsea against Barcelona last week. In recent weeks he has been joined by Niall Quinn and Graeme Souness to give Sky its sharpest and most articulate panel yet and one hopes that they are reunited for the season's pivotal game.
You can bet, with one eye on the city's rich heritage for its trademark musical montage sign-off, that for Sky at least this will be more Happy Monday than Blue Monday.