As befits a place possessing more trees per person than any other European city Sheffield looks particularly verdant at the moment. Not that green will be its dominant colour on Saturday when this hilly corner of South Yorkshire can expect to be swathed in either blue and white or red and white, with the divisions dependent on whether residents support Sheffield Wednesday or United.
Both teams have spent the season attempting to escape League One and after Saturday afternoon's final round of games, one of them will secure the second automatic promotion place, leaving the other consigned to the play-offs.
For several months Danny Wilson's United seemed favourites to go straight up but since the replacement, controversial at the time, of Gary Megson with Dave Jones in early March, Wednesday have been unbeaten, winning nine games and drawing three. They stand one point ahead of United and are at home to relegated Wycombe Wanderers with a sell-out crowd of almost 38,000 expected to fill their famous old home.
At Exeter City, Wilson's team also face newly relegated opponents but, as if having lost control of their destiny was not bad enough, must cope without the man who scored 35 goals in 42 appearances for them this season.
Instead of travelling to Devon, Ched Evans is beginning a five-year sentence for rape. If the Professional Footballers' Association got it badly wrong when, in the wake of Evans's conviction, the players' union refused to withdraw his name from League One's team of the season, United at least displayed some appreciation of the wider world's distaste by immediately suspending Connor Brown, one of their reserves, when he allegedly used Twitter to make derogatory comments about the Wales striker's victim.
Following Evans's dispatch to prison United suffered their first defeat in 10 games at MK Dons before drawing at home with Stevenage, thereby handing the initiative to Wednesday. Wilson's players are said to have been left "emotionally drained" by the Evans verdict, but their manager – who refuses to discuss the case until after a planned appeal – rejects suggestions that it threatens to destroy their season. "No," said Wilson. "We're professionals. Everybody has setbacks in life and you show your character by coming through them. I'm not going to offer any excuses."
Albeit tacitly, Jones acknowledges Wednesday may have had the door to the Championship held open. "It's not for me to talk about Ched Evans," he says. "All I'm concerned about is what we do – but I'll take whatever help comes my way."
It all leaves Wilson – who, courtesy of an exhilarating brand of attacking, passing football, has spent much of the campaign winning over those fans initially reluctant to forgive him a past that included stints playing for and managing Wednesday – contemplating a major gamble.
Ordinarily, a serious shoulder injury coupled with a broken nose and fractured hand would eliminate United's veteran striker Richard Cresswell from the first-team equation but, after receiving several heavy duty painkilling injections, he impressed as a substitute against Stevenage. "I'll need jabs to play but I'm ready to do whatever it takes," said Cresswell, who has scored 10 goals this season. "Strange things can happen on the final day and I'll do whatever I can for the team."
Jones's principal striker is Gary Madine but, in a bid to further augment his attack, a manager who prides himself on ability to bring the best out of "difficult" characters signed the gifted yet self-destructive Nile Ranger on loan from Newcastle United in March.
Alan Pardew, Newcastle's manager, despaired of the young striker's tardiness – not to mention his brushes with the law – but even though Ranger's seven appearances in a Wednesday shirt have produced only one goal the air floating in from the adjacent Peak District seems to suit him and his exceptional pace represents an important weapon in Jones's armoury.
"Promotion will be a life-changing experience for everyone here," says Wednesday's manager. "We can't let it slip now. It's in our hands but it's no good getting ourselves into this position and then falling at the death. The crowd will be massive and, because they've gone down, Wycombe will be a bit gutted and want to show they can play. These are the danger games so we have to stay focused. We mustn't blow it."
Wilson is not about to offer any reassurance. "Nothing is decided yet and we're certainly not giving up on anything," he says. "This is football, anything can happen and I think pressure brings out the best in us. My players have tried to play passing football all season and that takes bravery. I know they're made of the right stuff."