The meeting of Everton's past and present could be billed as the pragmatist against the idealist, the clash of the conservative and the cavalier. If that may be a simplification, Wednesday's encounter between David Moyes and Roberto Martínez allows the Merseyside club to reflect on the differences between old and new.
In terms of results, the Spaniard has carried on where the Scot left off. In matters of personnel, the younger man has a greater focus on the future. It was inconceivable Moyes would select two teenagers at Old Trafford. It is very possible Martínez will. Ross Barkley, while rested on Saturday, had illuminated the Merseyside derby. Gerard Deulofeu, who sparkled as a substitute then, starred as a starter against Stoke.
It would, Martínez admitted, be hard to omit his compatriot against Manchester United. Deulofeu has a solitary, albeit spectacular, Premier League start to his name, a questionable commitment to tracking back and a tendency to over-elaborate. The on-loan Barcelona winger can also trouble anyone. "He can open spaces up by trying things," Martínez said. "I want him to continue to express himself. Engaging with players in one-v-one situations dislodges good defences. To have that raw talent is not selfish."
If there is an altruistic element to Deulofeu's solo runs, Martínez argued, the beneficiaries are Everton's senior citizens, who formed the spine of Moyes' side. "We have got a really good blend of experience and youth," he said. "The youth needs a bit of direction and the experience needs a bit of fresh legs."
The difference is that the tried and trusted tend to start every game, providing a platform for the more untried talents. "Sometimes we need to protect youngsters," Martínez said, explaining Barkley's presence on the bench. His natural instinct, however, is to unleash the newcomers. "To see young players coming on and making real statements is important," he said.
Moyes granted the 19-year-old Barkley only four league starts. Martínez has given him 10 already, installing a technical player in the position where his predecessor preferred the physical power of first Tim Cahill and then Marouane Fellaini.
Whereas Moyes was sometimes criticised for caution in his rhetoric and tactics, Martínez has brought optimism. "This group of players go the extra mile for each other," he said. "I always felt that there is something special in the group." It was a promise not to be intimidated by the champions. He believes excellence stems from fearless football.
"If you want to achieve something over the course of the season you need to be yourself, whichever ground you visit and whoever you face," he said. "We are going to go to Old Trafford and [will] be ourselves."
Moyes famously never won there as Everton manager; indeed their last victory at United came in the Premier League's maiden week in 1992. Yet if much of Everton's 21st-century history reflects well upon the Scot, his sunnier successor paints a picture of brighter times to come. Martínez added: "This squad hasn't reached its full potential and that's something to be excited [about]."
Man of the match Gerard Deulofeu (Everton)