Everton boss David Moyes believes the gap between his team and Liverpool is now as close as he can remember during his time in charge.
Moyes, working with just a fraction of the Anfield side's budget, has finished above Liverpool only once in his nine years at the Goodison Park helm.
His side have an excellent chance to improve on that record this season as they head into Sunday's 215th Merseyside derby level with the Reds - albeit in mid-table - in the Barclays Premier League.
The Toffees are improving after a sluggish start to the campaign while Liverpool remain a club in turmoil after changing their manager and losing twice in the past week.
Moyes is yet to oversee a win at Anfield but is hopeful that could change this weekend.
The Scot said: "We have done well against the bigger sides and hopefully we can do it against Liverpool.
"The difference in the spending between the two clubs is a different world completely.
"But we have competed quite well with Liverpool, we have tried to be up there.
"The gap is probably as close now as it has ever been.
"Both clubs are probably not happy with their league positions - certainly we're not.
"We want to go there and try to take the points.
"I've not won enough derbies but hopefully we can try to turn that around."
Everton beat Liverpool at Goodison in October and are looking to complete their first double over their great rivals since 1984-85, when they finished as champions.
Kenny Dalglish was in the Liverpool side beaten in both of those games and he will be heavily involved again on Sunday in his first match at Anfield since being reappointed as manager.
Liverpool have turned to Dalglish again - 20 years after he resigned following a 4-4 draw with Everton - after Roy Hodgson left the club last week.
That is sure to make the clash an emotional occasion but Moyes does not believe the atmosphere will be any more intimidating than usual.
He said: "If Kenny was playing I would have to worry - because what a player he was, someone I admired as a footballer.
"As a manager I don't think it makes a great deal of difference - but he is also a terrific manager.
"Look at the stuff he has won before.
"It looks like a good fit for Liverpool Football Club. They have got one of their own back in charge."
The Merseyside derby has been a feisty fixture in recent years with 10 red cards in the last 12 meetings.
In the corresponding fixture last season Everton lost Steven Pienaar and Liverpool's Sotirios Kyrgiakos was also dismissed.
Moyes said: "I think you always stress discipline but if tackles are there to be won, you have to try to win them.
"Now and again they might be mistimed and that can go for or against you.
"I don't think you'd be asking players not to be fully committed and stand back.
"That's what the supporters want the players to do and you take the consequences.
"Hopefully we will be fully charged and ready for a tough encounter.
"I think it offers three points and a little more as far as your own supporters are concerned.
"It is important they can see you trying to beat your neighbours and get a result."
Everton are buoyed by recent results having beaten Champions League contenders Tottenham last week and then crushed Scunthorpe in the FA Cup.
The mood has only been punctured by confirmation that Pienaar is poised to leave the club.
Everton have accepted a bid from an unnamed club for the South African midfielder, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
It has been reported that Chelsea have held discussions with the player but they have broken down and he is now likely to sign a pre-contract agreement with a European club.
Moyes has shed no light on those stories but has revealed that the 28-year-old, signed for £2million from Borussia Dortmund in 2007, has rejected a new contract.
He said: "We have had two offers and one of those offers has been accepted.
"We have allowed his representatives to speak to the other club."