It might seem strange to suggest that Tottenham Hotspur have plenty to prove at Manchester United on Wednesday given their results so far this season.
After all, Spurs’ haul of 23 points is their best return from the opening 10 games of the Premier League season in the 30 years since the competition began.
But for all that, it has been by no means the perfect campaign so far for Antonio Conte’s side and a trip to Old Trafford represents a stiff test of their ambitions.
Facing United is a chance for third-placed Tottenham to improve their poor record against other Big Six clubs so far this term.
They have taken just one point from two such fixtures, losing 3-1 at Arsenal and drawing 2-2 at Chelsea, where they needed a controversial injury-time equaliser.
Spurs may point to the sending-off of Emerson Royale at their north London rivals and the battling display at Stamford Bridge but it is difficult to make a compelling case that they deserved much out of either match.
A related concern is that although they have amassed a very healthy points total they have rarely made it look easy, even against poorer opponents.
Of their seven league wins, three have been by a single goal and a further two by two goals. Even the outliers – a 4-1 victory over Southampton and the 6-2 thrashing of Leicester City – came after they had fallen behind.
The overall impression is of a team doing enough to beat those beneath them but struggling to impose themselves against better rivals.
For United, the opposite is nearer the mark. A 6-3 humiliation at Manchester City aside, they have reserved their best displays for other Big Six teams.
After Erik ten Hag’s tenure got off to the worst possible start with back-to-back defeats by Brighton and Brentford, they got back on track with a disciplined 2-1 win over Liverpool and made it four wins in a row by beating leaders Arsenal 3-1.
That record is now five wins from their last seven, enough to hoist them up to fifth and back in the fight for Champions League qualification.
Their goal difference of -2 is the worst in the top nine, however, and those notable wins have not dispelled doubts about their ability to finish in the top four.
Tottenham can dent those prospects further at Old Trafford on Wednesday, and fortify their own bid to maintain their place at European football’s top table.
A win would move them second, one point behind Arsenal, and put 10 points between them and United. While not irretrievable, it’s a long way back from there.
Ten Hag will be encouraged by his side’s enduring ability to get up for big games and their record of five wins from their last seven encounters with Spurs.
That said, Tottenham have won twice in their last four visits to the red half of Manchester, including 6-1 the season before last.
If they can draw a line under their sub-par displays against Big Six sides, Conte really will have a start to the campaign to celebrate.