The 167th La Liga 'Clasico' between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on Saturday could be the ideal stage for Gareth Bale and Neymar to show they are worth a combined price tag of almost £135 million.
Or, as is more likely, one of the most intense rivalries in football and a match watched by hundreds of millions around the world will again showcase the peerless talents of Barca's Argentine World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Real's Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, fans in Britain will have to be content with 75 minutes of fun and frolics - archaic scheduling laws mean that no live football can be shown on UK TV between 2:45pm and 5:15 pm, as it clashes with the standard 3pm fixture list; as such, viewers on Sky Sports will see their coverage begin 15 minutes after kick-off.
Leaders Barca dropped their first points of the campaign with a 0-0 draw at Osasuna last weekend and victory for Real, as well as providing a huge confidence boost, would put them level with their bitter rivals on 25 points from 10 games.
Wales winger Bale replaced Ronaldo as the most expensive player in history when he joined Real from Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £86m in the close season, while Barca paid some £49m to lure Brazil forward Neymar from Santos.
Bale's first weeks in the Spanish capital have been disrupted by injury but coach Carlo Ancelotti hinted that the 24-year-old could feature from the start against Barca after coming on as a second-half substitute in Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League victory at home to Juventus.
Neymar, 21, has shown glimpses of the brilliance that has served his country so well in recent years - he scored the goal against Atletico Madrid that secured the Spanish Super Cup at the end of August - without really catching fire.
"I don't think there is any need to explain what this match is all about," he told Barca's television channel on Wednesday. "Even though players might never have participated in one, they understand the importance of a game between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
"A 'clasico' is the pinnacle for any player. It's the game everyone wants to play in and demonstrate their best football. This will be my first and I want to make a great debut, preferably with a victory."
Real fans, meanwhile, are impatient to see what Bale, the latest in a line of 'galactico' signings after players such as Figo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Ronaldo, is capable of. Supporters attending Wednesday's Juve game applauded him while he warmed up on the touchline and then gave him a rousing ovation when he replaced Karim Benzema in the 67th minute.
Ancelotti has been anxious not to overburden him too early in his Real career and Ronaldo, used to the intense media scrutiny that Bale and his family are now facing, this week urged people to give him time to settle in.
"Buying a player for that amount of money, it's a huge sum in the first place, but it also means the lad will have problems because he will never be judged normally," former Barca player and coach Johan Cruyff told As sports daily on Thursday. "It is going to be very tough for him and it's not fair. I like him as a player, he has a cool head, but just try and stay calm when all this is happening to you."
Saturday's match will also give Barca coach Gerardo Martino and Ancelotti their first taste of Spain's 'Clasico'. Argentine Martino and Italian Ancelotti, both hugely experienced and unlikely to be fazed by the occasion, are still tinkering with squads they inherited from Tito Vilanova and Jose Mourinho in the close season.
Ancelotti's task has been complicated by the arrivals of a host of new faces along with Bale, including Spain playmaker Isco and midfielder Asier Illarramendi, and Real have been less than convincing in several La Liga outings this term.
Although they won their opening nine matches, one short of the La Liga record held by Real, Barca have struggled to break down defence-minded teams despite Martino's attempts to introduce a more direct style of attack. Whatever happens on Saturday will not necessarily be decisive for the La Liga title race but could have a profound psychological effect on the players.
Neymar, for one, is taking it all in his stride. "I think the nerves are the same in all the games you play," he told Barca TV. "I know that it's about a very important 'Clasico' but I think the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach is the same as before a normal match."
Real hold the upper hand in league games against Barca, with 70 victories to 64 since they first locked horns in 1929. Under Mourinho last term, they drew 2-2 at the Nou Camp and won 2-1 at the Bernabeu but surrendered their Spanish title to Barca largely because of a stuttering start to the campaign.
Opta match stats
- Barcelona are without a win in five games against Real Madrid in all competitions (D2 L3); they have not gone six Clasicos without a victory in the last 10 seasons.
- After their 3-1 cup victory and 2-1 league win at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid have the opportunity to win three successive Clasicos in all competitions for the first time since 1979.
- Barcelona have only won one of their last five Clasicos at the Nou Camp and that came in the Supercopa having already lost the first leg in Madrid.
- Real Madrid have not won successive Clasicos at the Nou Camp (all competitions) since the 1960’s (four between 1962 and 1965).
- Madrid have scored 13 goals in their last six trips to the Nou Camp combined (2.1 per game), one more than Barcelona across these games.
- Barcelona have not kept Real Madrid from scoring in the Nou Camp since their 5-0 demolition in 2010; Jose Mourinho’s first Clasico as a manager.
- If he scores one goal in this game, Lionel Messi will overtake Alfredo Di Stefano as the top scorer in the history of Clasicos (18).
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in Real Madrid’s last six visits to the Nou Camp in all competitions (eight goals).
- Barca have won their three previous home league meetings with Real Madrid in the 10th gameweek of the season without conceding (3-0 in 1940, 1-0 in 1956 and 2-0 in 1985).
- Real Madrid are unbeaten in the three Clasicos that Diego Lopez has started in goal (W2 D1, all competitions).
- Barcelona have won 19 consecutive home league wins; Real Madrid were the last team to claim a point at the Nou Camp in a 2-2 draw last October.
- The last time Barcelona failed to score in successive league games was back in 2007/08; a season that Real Madrid won 1-0 at the Nou Camp thanks to Julio Baptista’s goal.
- Real Madrid have not lost a league game away from the Bernabeu since February (0-1 in Granada), Diego Lopez’s first game since his return.
- Neymar has participated in Barcelona’s last three league goals in the Nou Camp (two goals, one assist).
- Real Madrid have never lost a league game when Cristiano Ronaldo has scored (84 wins, six draws).
Opta head-to-head stats