As Catania and Udinese start to circle the European places in Serie A, so the mind games begin to heat up between Sicily and the mainland before tomorrow's match at the Stadio Angelo Massimino.
The Bianconeri have forged a reputation as plucky outsiders for Champions League qualification over recent seasons but this year has seen Francesco Guidolin's men chasing down Catania for a place in the top six.
And while the Elefanti have wobbled in recent weeks, Udinese are just one point and one place behind in ninth and gunning for victory tomorrow night.
Bianconeri boss Guidolin told La Repubblica: ``Catania put us in a lot of difficulty in the reverse fixture and their league position, although surprising, speaks for itself.
``Their last two defeats to Inter Milan and Juventus were not deserved. They're a solid team that knows how to react and they have a tough approach.''
A raft of suspensions has limited Udinese's chances of success, however, with Maurizio Domizzi, Maicosuel and Thomas Heurtaux all confined to the stands, while Mehdi Benatia, Giampiero Pinzi, Andrea Lazzari and Giovanni Pasquale miss out through injury.
``I want us to pick up positive results and stay in the top half of the table while paying close attention to the teams immediately behind us,'' Guidolin added.
``The team is in good physical shape and there was a great response against Roma (1-1 draw), where we proved we have hearts as big as houses.
``We know we have to improve on the ball and with the final touch but our goal is to pick up as many points as possible.''
Alejandro Gomez, meanwhile, is desperate to rub Catania's superior position in Guidolin's face when the two sides go head-to-head in east Sicily.
The Argentinian striker said: ``Last season, against them, I made the first mistake of my penalty-taking career. It's still something that haunts me every time I prepare to take one.
``I can't hide that the fact Guidolin says it's surprising to see Catania ahead of Udinese in the table gives me more motivation for Saturday.
``He is a great coach but he should worry more about his own team than about Catania. We are having a great season and perhaps someone is a little bit jealous.''
Home defender Ciro Capuano and striker Gonzalo Bergessio are injured while defender Nicolas Spolli starts a two-match ban.