Connor Southwell: Time for a sharp intake of breath...
PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 September 2019
In Manchester City, Norwich City prepare to head into battle with some of the Premier League's finest. The mere thought of facing Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne or Sergio Aguero is enough to provoke concern and dread.
Ultimately, this is what their Championship crusade was all about; it was the route to test themselves on the biggest stage against those operators who ooze quality. Glancing eyes will undoubtedly head towards the opponents' goals scored column, which will more than likely lead to a massive gulp. Twice English champions, European heavy-weights and a bank balance capable of making dream a reality.
This is what it's all about - it's why Norwich City want to occupy a position in the Premier League.
Underplaying the size of the challenge City face isn't necessary. Scrolling through the results and playing staff underlines the depth of quality available to Pep Guardiola as he attempts to make a dynasty in the blue half of Manchester.
To date, the buzzwords that have emanated from various pundits is one of naivety; given the context of who they face this weekend, that may not necessarily serve as a weakness for Daniel Farke's men.
Memory serves as an apt reminder of how that opening weekend at Anfield unfolded.
Despite the goals conceded and mistakes made, supporters vacated the stadium with feelings of optimism and hope. Naturally, losing 4-1 to a side who - with Manchester City - occupies a league of their own in regards to quality is no disgrace. With an array of injured troops, implementing their offensive style is going to prove tasking given the credentials of Manchester City.
However, approach will be decisive as to the mood music that spreads after the final whistle.
Questions have been posed regarding their defensive resilience and for Farke, those injuries to key operators won't ease the load on those who don the shirts at present. As a unit, they've gifted space and not condensed central areas of the pitch successfully enough.
The achievement for the Canaries is that they are even here at all. In financial terms, these two sides occupy different stratospheres.
They've spent 32 times less than the champions, attempting to construct a side that doesn't revolve around one or two stars but pulls it weight in equal measure. Embed young footballers into that fabric and convention suggests this is a team who are certainties for relegation.
Speak to anybody who occupies the corridors of power at Colney and they'll explain their lack of regard for the norm. Forging their own path against a backdrop of big hitters and European powerhouses increases the appetite for their attempted operations.
Any Norwich player lacing their boots with fear about the prospects ahead won't find themselves near Farke's first team. Instead, they'll possess belief.
Survival will depend on winning football matches but these aren't the fixtures that will decide the Canaries fate.
Beyond Liverpool, any side that lands a punch on Manchester City will be lauded. The shift in Manchester has been dramatic, the roles reversed so drastically. The red side, associated with historic title victories and boasting star after star amongst their midst, are now left watching as Guardiola's side attempt to become footballing immortals and win all that is available.
That is why Norwich must relish this encounter and see it as a test of their ability.
A year previous, they were preparing to take on then Tony Pulis' Middlesbrough. Among the Portman Road terraces a week prior, supporters were demanding the Canaries' chief resolves the on-pitch issues as they looked for a tangible improvement. It seems unthinkable at present, given the height of the German's current stock.
Now, they face the English champions on television seeking to construct another chapter in a book that has defied belief. This would be their finest page yet.