PAUL Scholes believes the naked hatred that exists between fans of Manchester United and Liverpool will ensure the rivalry between the north west clubs never dies.
The intensity of the battles has endured even though United went 26 years without winning the league at a time when Liverpool were in their pomp.
Now the roles are reversed as Liverpool enter their third decade without a title, during which time United have moved level with their record 18 championships.
Yet at Old Trafford tomorrow there will be no sense of inferiority from either side as what Sir Alex Ferguson describes as the Premier League fixture gets under way.
"You can't get away from the fact that both teams don't really like each other," said the midfield star.
"We are both desperate to win and I don't think that will ever change."
Ferguson puts the distaste down to historic trading links along the canals, when both cities strove for a sense of one-upmanship.
Those days have gone, with even a local lad like Scholes conceding there are occasions when the results themselves matter more than others.
Last season, as the Reds stumbled into seventh spot during Rafael Benitez's final campaign in charge, the edge came through United's desperation for points to try to retain the title.
Twelve months earlier, with both clubs aiming for the top, the battle was greater.
"That was a bigger fixture because they were doing well. They came to Old Trafford and beat us," said Scholes.
"Liverpool did not have a great season last year but whenever you play them it is still a massive game.
"The rivalry is huge and it is good to beat them."
Scholes is expected to be recalled into a much-changed line-up to the side that failed to overcome Rangers' obdurate defence on Tuesday.
As United continued their ultimately fruitless search for a goal, it was difficult not to yearn for Scholes' invention to open up a contest that had got itself well and truly deadlocked.
Just as fellow old stager Ryan Giggs was flavour of the month at this time last year, so Scholes is attracting plenty of positive headlines for his performances even though he will celebrate his 36th birthday in November.
Typically, Scholes has no revelation to make about why he should be able to reach such a high standard so consistently.
However, it seems Fabio Capello's failure to lure the midfielder out of international retirement to play for England at the World Cup this summer may indirectly have something to do with it.
"I couldn't say for certain whether I have hit the ground running because I have had some time off," he said.
"But obviously it was nice to have a break. It meant I felt fresh when I came back.
"I also managed to stay fit throughout pre-season, which helps, because having a run of games is a major factor."
Amongst those paying tribute to Scholes this week has been Alan Shearer, who is not alone in believing the Salford-born star to be the most influential player of his generation.
It is almost amusing the way Scholes deals with such high praise.
"I try to ignore the plaudits," he said.
"It is nice for people to say positive things but I just put it to one side and concentrate on the next game."
And for United that is crucial, partly because it is Liverpool but also because last week they threw away two points at Everton, just as they had done at Fulham three weeks earlier.
"This game always matters but after the disappointments at Everton and Fulham we need the right result because we have already dropped four points and then we drew again on Tuesday against Rangers.
"It is no disaster at the minute. We haven't lost any matches and some of the lads who have not played much football got a game under their belts.
"But you fear losing at this club, and against Liverpool in particular, so hopefully we can get the right result."