In the quest for the first piece of silverware for the season, Michael Cox hopes Roberto Mancini continues experimenting with Manchester City's shape when they meet Chelsea in the Community Shield game.
Matches between these two are frequently billed as a clash of the big spenders, but Manchester City and Chelsea have experienced a completely different transfer window so far.
Chelsea have completely changed the attacking section of their side, signing Oscar, Marko Marin and Eden Hazard, while losing Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou. City, on the other hand, have uncharacteristically yet to make a single major signing this summer.
This means that, in theory, City are in the better position for this match - they have a settled squad that won the league last season, and should come into this game as a cohesive unit. Chelsea, on the other hand, will be experimenting to find their best side. But it's not quite that simple, as both coaches have selection problems ahead of this match.
A couple of Roberto Mancini's players are yet not up to full fitness after their participation at Euro 2012 - Mario Balotelli and David Silva were involved until the final, while Nigel de Jong and Samir Nasri are also still recovering. Mancini hasn't fielded anything close to a full-strength side in pre-season, and it's difficult to predict how strong his XI will be at Villa Park here. Vincent Kompany is also a doubt, and though he'll be desperate to play, Mancini won't want to take unnecessary risks with his captain.
Roberto Di Matteo is without Oscar, still contesting the Olympics, while Juan Mata is still recovering after Spain's surprise early exit. Therefore, it seems likely Ramires will play on the right of a front three, with Hazard on the left and Fernando Torres upfront. That's how they started last weekend against Brighton, although they lost that game 3-1 - their third consecutive friendly defeat.
Therefore, this match is likely to be based around fitness and motivation rather than tactical factors, although it's worth considering Mancini's pre-season experiments with a 3-5-2 system, which has seen mixed results. This could be the perfect chance to test it before the season starts against strong opposition, although it's always a risk playing three defenders against an opposition front three - ideally, you need a spare man at the back to maintain a numerical superiority. If Mancini does go with three at the back, Chelsea's price of 3.4 suddenly becomes much more appealing.
Either way, I think the man to watch out for is Ramires. Likely to start in the front three, his sheer stamina should be perfect for a game like this - with everyone else looking to conserve energy ahead of the new season, Ramires will continue to charge between midfield and attack, linking play and getting beyond Torres into right-of-centre goalscoring positions. It's worth looking for City's left-back, either Gael Clichy or Aleksandar Kolarov, to pick up a booking - but I'm going to back Ramires to score anytime at around 6.0.
Best Bets @ Betfair
Back Chelsea (3.4) if Manchester City start with a 3-5-2
Ramires to score @ Betfair odds of (6.0)