Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry accepts there is no hiding from the pressure of next Monday's pivotal clash against Manchester United.
City will reclaim top spot in the Premier League from their arch-rivals with victory at the Etihad Stadium, in possibly the most eagerly-anticipated Manchester derby ever.
City's hopes appeared over as they fell eight points behind following defeat at Arsenal earlier this month but, playing with nothing to lose, Roberto Mancini's men have since trimmed the deficit to three.
Barry told the club's official website: "You've always got to hope. There's always a danger of losing concentration if it's not in your own hands, but now it is. To call it a second chance is probably right. It's all built up to a huge game on Monday and we're all really looking forward to it.
"There's probably been less pressure on us in the last few games. I don't think you can get away from the size of the game against United and the pressure on the team. It's not really an excuse. When the game is that big the pressure is on both sets of players and it's probably going to be down to who handles that best.''
The game has been billed by some as a title decider but Barry does not think City can afford to view it that way. A win would only put City ahead on goal difference with a tricky trip to Newcastle and a visit from relegation battlers QPR still to come.
Barry, 31, said: "I think initially, because the derby is the next game, it is a must-win for us. Then you have to look after the games still to come. If we get a positive result against United that certainly is not the end of it. Newcastle and QPR have got so much to play for themselves. People are speaking of this as maybe being the biggest game in Premier League history and on a personal level, it's a massive game for me to be playing in.''
City have spent most of the season top of the table - and were five points clear in December - but hit a sticky spell in March and conceded the initiative to United. Yet, since opening up an apparently decisive eight-point lead, United have lost to struggling Wigan and been held to a draw by Everton.
Barry added: "We can look further back in the season to when we were clear and people were maybe people were thinking it was over for United, but they came back strongly. It's just the Premier League and the way things are. It's such a long season and so much can happen.
"I've really enjoyed this season. I've had a great run of games and it's fantastic that we're still challenging for the title. It goes without saying we'll be giving our all to try and take advantage of the situation, but as I say, we have three huge games left so we need to take one game at a time.''