New managers Claude Puel and David Moyes find themselves winless after two Premier League games each, with both Southampton and Sunderland having suffered defeats to the fast-starting Manchester pair of United and City respectively.
While the Black Cats performed admirably in going down battling against City at the Etihad on the opening day, Saints ushered in the era of Friday Night Football with little more than a whimper in their Old Trafford defeat.
Already then, a sense that this meeting at St Mary’s has the potential to send these rivals on differing paths, should they get a positive result.
On the law of averages, a home win at 10/17 seems the safe play in this game.
Sunderland have routinely started recent Premier League campaigns with alarming difficulty, ending each of their previous four seasons without a win during the month of August.
Moyes highlighted after the home defeat to Middlesbrough that the Black Cats are, yet again, facing a relegation battle.
Making the long journey south, Sunderland fans will recall with angst the memory of an 8-0 drubbing at this venue two seasons ago.
Moyes’ defensive line is not one to be relied on right now and the darting runs of Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long could cause havoc for the visitors.
Republic of Ireland striker Long was unfortunate not to open his account when Watford visited two weeks ago while there was precious little to feed off at Old Trafford last week.
At 9/2 to score first, Long is fancied to pick up where he left off last season when scoring five times in Saints’ final 11 games.
The early signs for Sunderland suggest a long winter ahead. The one bright spot, as he has been during much of his time in the north east, is Jermain Defoe.
At 33, the former England forward is still finding the net regularly despite playing in a team that is essentially up against it week in, week out.
If there is to be a positive spark for Sunderland here, Defoe ought to have a hand in it, making the 5/2 anytime goalscorer odds potentially appealing.
Sunderland’s uncanny knack for slow starts is hard to get away from, especially after last weekend’s mediocre home performance.
Before Sam Allardyce brought about a change in fortunes in the latter part of last term, this was a side that had conceded three or more goals in eight of its first 22 league games.
Southampton could make this yet another fruitless trip for Sunderland and the home side are 51/20 to score over 2.5 goals.