Derby preview: Swansea City aim to move through the gears at Cardiff City
IT is a fixture you look forward to for months but might turn away from in minutes.
You count the days until it comes around and then count the seconds until the final whistle.
"I don't enjoy the derby," Huw Jenkins concedes.
There is a blend of anticipation and trepidation in the South Wales air.
The 61st edition — in the league (rather than Southern League) or in one of the major cup competitions — of the Swansea-Cardiff derby is almost upon us.
And this time it is serious.
Or more accurately, even more serious than usual.
Swansea Town played their first ever game against Cardiff, a 1-1 draw at Vetch Field.
A little over 101 years later, the two clubs do battle in the Premier League for the very first time this Sunday afternoon.
Swansea City against Cardiff would be a big deal if the two teams got together for a kickabout in Bridgend.
The stakes are always high when the neighbours squabble, but there has never been a derby quite like this before.
Ten years ago, the idea that one of the two South Wales giants would reach the top flight was fanciful.
To suggest that they would both be there at the same time would have been bordering on the absurd.
Yet Swansea made it in 2011 and, after two years of envy and a lucky new strip, Cardiff joined them last May.
From the minute the Bluebirds drew with Charlton to clinch their place among the elite, thoughts began to drift towards a top division derby.
Now the first one is almost upon us, and tension reigns.
"When you are in the Premier League you don't enjoy any game like you used to do," reckons Jenkins.
"The pressure is always there to get points on the board as quickly as possible.
"Perhaps then, when you have a few wins under your belt, you can relax a little bit.
"But you look at the table going into Cardiff and the pressure is on.
"If they win they will go above us, if we win we will easily stay in the top half and we'll have a little cushion of points between us and the bottom three.
"That means there is more pressure on the game, and not just because it is against Cardiff."
So Jenkins, like the other 2,300 or so Jacks in Cardiff this weekend, is getting set to watch the game through the gaps in his fingers.
It will be the same story, no doubt, for the locals.
On the evidence of recent derby encounters, there is no chance of either side strolling towards three points, so the nerves seem certain to jangle until the end.
Expect a tight contest, one where every twist and turn will be felt in the stomachs of all those who have been lucky enough to secure a ticket.
Not since 1996, when Swansea triumphed 3-1 at Ninian Park, has the difference between the sides been more than one goal.
Another close-run thing looks to be on the cards this weekend, one where a single moment of quality — or one mistake — might make all the difference.
On derby day, there will be no need for motivational team talks in either dressing room.
In fact the challenge for Michael Laudrup — just like opposite number Malky Mackay — is to ensure his players' desire does not blur their focus.
The Dane will lean on the leaders in his team, hence he was so desperate to ensure Ashley Williams played against West Ham last weekend.
With a game under his belt, Swansea's skipper will be in much better shape for Cardiff.
"Ashley's leadership is important for us," Laudrup concedes.
"It can be talking a lot, or just your presence, it can be because you are calm on the pitch or because you are very spectacular in the way you play."
It is not just down to Williams, however, to set the tone on Sunday.
"I think you need one, two or three leaders who can lead in different ways," Laudrup adds.
"Neil Taylor, for instance, is a player who talks a lot. Chico (Flores) leads in another way, and Michu is a leader in his way."
Who knows, it could be that Michu leads the line this weekend.
Laudrup may opt to bolster his midfield for a game which is sure to be a battle, and that would mean Michu moving forward to play the attacking role he filled so often last season.
The bolder approach would be to go with Michu at No. 10, with Alvaro Vazquez or more likely Wilfried Bony spearheading Swansea.
Cardiff would have more to worry about if Laudrup picks Michu and another forward.
Laudrup must decide whether that approach would give him worries at the other end of the field.
Cardiff have not scored that many league goals — eight — and it will not have escaped Laudrup's attention that plenty of the ones they have got have come from set-pieces.
Forgetting the threat he brings going forward, Bony might be a useful man to have around at the other end of the field given Cardiff's dead-ball prowess.
Inevitably, Swansea will have to defend in spells.
But if his team can keep the back door closed, Laudrup will be confident about their chances of doing damage at the other end, even if they were shut out by West Ham last time out.
Pablo Hernandez is back in the mix and looked bright in his Hammers cameo, while Nathan Dyer has a penchant for a goal in the derby.
Wayne Routledge, meantime, may be spurred on if he gets flak from the fans he once played for.
Swansea have players who can trouble Cardiff — but only if they get their possession game right.
Jenkins conceded in the week that Laudrup's team have not hit their straps as yet this season, that they have ticked along without turning on the style.
He is adamant an improvement is around the corner. How sweet it would be if Laudrup's team prove the chairman right just up the M4.
"This is the game you want to win," says Neil Taylor.
He will get no arguments there.