Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has branded the decision of his counterpart Roberto Mancini to usher Carlos Tevez back into the Manchester City fold as the act of a desperate man.
Ferguson was taken aback earlier this week when City's former midfielder and current ambassador Patrick Vieira claimed it had been an act of desperation by United to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement.
After claiming eight victories and a draw from the nine Barclays Premier League games they have played since Scholes returned in January, Ferguson can argue United's decision has worked.
Tevez's impact is yet to be measured. However, in the biggest attack of what could turn out to be a prolonged Mancunian battle, Ferguson went on the offensive, and warned there is plenty more to come in the mind games war.
"If it's desperation bringing back the best midfielder in Britain for the last 20 years then I think we can accept that," said Ferguson.
"I think he (Vieira) was programmed for that.
"Roberto had a wee dig a couple of weeks back. We're all going to play our hand that way. There will be plenty of ammunition for that.
"If you talk about desperation, they played a player the other night who refused to go on the pitch, the manager said he'd never play again and he takes a five-month holiday in Argentina. What is that? Could that come under the description of desperation?"
Ferguson also rejected Vieira's assertion that a further sign of United struggling was their inability to keep hold of Ravel Morrison during the January transfer window and their ongoing battle to retain Paul Pogba.
"The point he made about Ravel Morrison and losing our young players - we wanted to sell him (Morrison) let's be clear about that, for obvious reasons," said Ferguson.
"But we want Pogba to stay because we think he's going to be a fantastic Manchester United player and hopefully that's the case."
It was the kind of riposte Ferguson has turned into an art form down the years and was delivered with the kind of mischievous smile that suggested a pre-planned attack.
Pogba has been likened to Vieira many times since his move from Le Havre and the mere fact he is set to be in Ferguson's squad on Monday is an indication previous reports of a deal with Juventus already being agreed are wide of the mark.
However, it was on Scholes that Vieira's attack was chiefly centred.
It is difficult to criticise the move given United are now one point ahead of City in the title race.
"Paul can dictate the tempo and rhythm of our game very well," said Ferguson.
"He has the experience which helps him do that and a terrific football brain.
"He wanted to retire because he wanted to play 50 games, not 25. He didn't think that was enough.
"Maybe he felt that was me not giving him enough appreciation but what I was trying to do was look at it in a sensible way and think what do you get out of a 37-year-old? How many games can you get out of him?
"There will be games where we maybe leave him out, but we also know the games he can play in."
It has already been suggested Scholes could be asked to come out of international retirement and play for England at Euro 2012, or failing that, the Great Britain Olympic team.
Both scenarios would indicate Scholes will extend his career by another year, although Ferguson insists that is yet to be decided.
"I've not approached that subject at all," he said.
Scholes is one of those who will benefit from United's absence from any cup commitments, meaning that apart from Easter, they have just one game a week until the campaign reaches its conclusion until May 13.
And now they have an advantage over City the vision ahead of them is clear, and City's comeback win over Chelsea on Wednesday is not going to change it.
"We got our break when they lost to Swansea," said Ferguson.
"That put us a point ahead. Monday's game is the one to aim for now. The game after that is Blackburn. That is the best way to handle it."