Borussia Dortmund are flying high at the top of the Bundesliga but local rivals Schalke would love nothing more than to dent their title ambitions in Saturday's Ruhr derby.
Schalke were runners-up last term but are struggling in 12th this season and in desperate need of a boost.
Dortmund in contrast have built rapidly under new coach Lucien Favre from their fourth-place finish last season and are unbeaten, seven points clear of Borussia Moenchengladbach in second.
"Dortmund have got a good team this year, who are very dangerous going forward. Marco Reus, Paco Alcacer and Jadon Sancho, to name a few, are delivering week in week out and it is quite impressive," Austrian midfielder Alessandro Schoepf told the Schalke homepage.
"Despite this, we still have a chance. If we put our all into the game, we can win the derby.
"Dortmund have not lost a game so far but it is about time they did."
Schalke beat Dortmund at home last season and a remarkable comeback from four goals down secured a draw at their rivals to ensure local honours.
Coach Domenico Tedesco has been given time to turn things round and Champions League progress, along with a solid point at Hoffenheim last time, shows all is not yet lost.
A win over Dortmund would undo a lot of the damage from previous months.
"We now want to give everything we have to prepare for the derby – we’ll give it 100 per cent," he promised.
Dortmund have had some lucky escapes to maintain their unbeaten domestic record, rescuing a late draw at Hoffenheim and coming from behind to defeat Bayer Leverkusen, Augsburg and champions Bayern Munich.
Accordingly they have their sights set higher than mere local disputes, even if the title is still being talked down.
"That's not the goal but it's the dream," midfielder Thomas Delaney told a Ruhr Nachrichten show.
"Hopefully it'll continue this way until the end. What I can promise is that we're very hungry."
Gladbach lost ground in the title race with a loss to RB Leipzig last weekend and must wait until Sunday to try to bounce back against relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart.
They too, however, as trying to keep their feet on the ground.
“We’ve been playing really well for a while now, but that doesn’t mean we are a Dortmund hunter," coach Dieter Hecking said.
"We don’t want to be considered title candidates, but instead a team that wants to play successful football week-in week-out.”
Third-place Leipzig travel to Freiburg on Saturday at the same time Munich, fourth, host lowly Nuremberg in a Bavarian derby.
Unlike the two Borussias, Bayern are unabashed in the chase for titles despite their poor form.
They have't won a Bundesliga game in front of their own fans since mid-September and currently trail Dortmund by nine points.
"We’re already talking about saying goodbye but the team has plenty of ambition and I do as well," veteran winger Arjen Robben told the club homepage after saying this season would be his last with the team.
"My goal is to leave with at least one trophy in the summer."
Weekend action begins with Werder Bremen trying to end a five-game winless run at home to bottom club Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday, Saturday also includes Leverkusen v Augsburg and Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, and Sunday opens with Mainz v Hanover.