St Etienne midfielder Fabien Lemoine insists tomorrow night's clash with Rennes is too important to be considered a mere dress rehearsal for next month's Coupe de la Ligue final.
A top-three finish is the target for Christophe Galtier's in-form team, and victory at the Route de Lorient stadium would take them into third place, above Marseille.
Marseille must travel to face second-placed Lyon on Sunday, so this could be the weekend that St Etienne step up their bid to reach a Champions League place for next season.
Asked whether the tussle could also influence next month's domestic final, Lemoine said: ``No. The final is another thing entirely, with a completely different context and emotion. At the moment, we are focusing on the league. The final will be played on the big day.''
St Etienne are still reeling from last weekend's devastating blow of Jeremy Clement's badly broken leg, sustained in the 4-0 win over Nice after a dangerous tackle by Valentin Eysseric, who was sent off.
Lemoine said of his fellow midfielder: ``We have been very affected by this terrible injury. Jeremy is an important member of our team, on the pitch as well as in the dressing room. Today he is in good spirits even if he faces a long time out. He's a battler, a fighter. He'll come back stronger.
``We would love for the team to be contesting big matches when Jeremy returns next season.''
Rennes are eighth in the Ligue 1 table after taking just one point from their last three games. That puts them six points behind fourth-placed St Etienne, who have won six of their last seven, but Rennes still have designs on playing in Europe next season.
Lemoine told St Etienne's website: ``They will look to press us because they need to win to get back on course. We will have to be ready for them.''
Julian Feret, the midfielder who has chipped in eight useful league goals for Rennes this season, knows the team's poor run needs to be halted.
``This match is not a turning point because there will still be games left in the league but it is more important for us than for them,'' Feret told the Rennes website.
``We know that if we want to stay in touch, we need the three points.''
Rennes certainly have had next month's cup final on their minds.
``We think about it every week,'' Feret said. ``It's in our heads. But it's still a long way off. What matters now is Friday's match against St Etienne.''