• Players clashed after United's defeat in 2011 FA Cup semi-final
• Balotelli: 'We are friends … or we respect each other anyway'
Mario Balotelli insists there will be no personal grudge between himself and Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford on Sunday but warned Manchester City's opponents that he expects to continue his scoring form in the battle between the Premier League's top two clubs.
The two players clashed at the end of last season's FA Cup semi-final when Ferdinand took exception to the way Balotelli was celebrating because he felt the striker was holding up his shirt in the direction of the Manchester United supporters.
Balotelli, enhancing his reputation as one of the more controversial footballers in the game, inflamed the situation by winking at Ferdinand, but the Italian does not believe there are any lingering grievances.
"I don't have anything against him," he said. "He is a great player. I didn't ever speak to him [at Wembley]. I was just celebrating, but not against them [United supporters]. I showed him the shirt of City and obviously he got angry with me.
"For me, what happened on the pitch stayed on the pitch and now we are friends like before. Or we respect each other anyway. I'm going to give him the handshake before the game like I give to everyone."
Balotelli was speaking on the day it emerged Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini had put aside their club rivalry to acknowledge each other's achievements during their first full season in opposition. Ferguson wrote a letter to Mancini after City had won the FA Cup to congratulate him on the club's first trophy in 35 years. Mancini did likewise to recognise the 12th league title of Ferguson's reign at Old Trafford.
That kind of entente cordiale is very different to the occasionally fractious relationship Ferguson had with Mancini's predecessor, Mark Hughes, and Balotelli continued the theme by stating he would not try to antagonise the Old Trafford crowd, despite having spent part of City's 4-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday goading the opposition fans.
"They can say what they want," he said. "I won't say anything to them. I will be focused on the game. All that matters is the result, nothing else. After the game I might think about the supporters but not during it or before."
Balotelli, who has scored in his past four games for City, went on to speak of his confidence that he can continue that run against the champions. "I hope I will have the chance to shoot two or three times and, if I do, I think I will score. It's important all the team work hard, from the strikers to the goalkeeper, and I think we can beat them."
The City striker Carlos Tevez's disciplinary hearing over his alleged refusal to go on as a substitute against Bayern Munich starts on Friday.