Pep Guardiola believes Manchester United could still mount a strong title challenge even if they lose this weekend's derby.
Guardiola's Manchester City, the champions and current Premier League leaders, could open up a 12-point gap over their arch-rivals with victory at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
But with United having enjoyed an upturn in results of late, most notably with a stunning comeback victory against Juventus in midweek, Guardiola feels they will be in contention regardless of the outcome.
"Win or lose they are not out. It's not possible in November. They've already shown they can recover. They are a big club, with big mentality," the City boss said at his pre-match media conference.
"United have the history and always they are there. Maybe in March, April (you could say that) but everything can change at this stage."
Guardiola recognises the derby as a special occasion for fans but didn't want to overplay the significance of this game at this stage of the season.
He also pointed out City lost the corresponding fixture last April but the more important fact was they were crowned champions a week later.
The derby will be Guardiola's sixth since he took over at City in 2016 and will see him go up against Jose Mourinho, the United manager, once again.
The pair's rivalry stretches from their time as managers of Barca and Real Madrid respectively but Guardiola insists tensions have cooled since then.
There has been relatively little attention on the managers before this weekend's game and Guardiola likes it that way.
However, he stirred the pot himself before the last derby in April by claiming before the match that City had been offered United midfielder Paul Pogba by the player's agent Mino Raiola.
Pogba went on to play a starring role as United won 3-2.
Asked if he regretted those comments, Guardiola said: "I don't have too many regrets, that's the question for his agent, his comments. It's in the past. We lost. Every game is a new history and a new chapter."