Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish concedes tomorrow's clash with his mentor Sir AlexFerguson is not a fair fight ahead of his side's trip to Manchester United on Sunday.
City face a daunting task on their return to the Barclays Premier League as they face United at Old Trafford.
McLeish has a good relationship with Ferguson having played under him atAberdeen.
As a youngster McLeish was persuaded by Ferguson to continue in football rather than pursue an alternative career in accountancy and the pair have remained close since.
McLeish even consulted Ferguson when he quit the Scotland national post to take over at St Andrews in 2007 and that decision now brings them into contact as rival managers.
However McLeish insists he could hardly have been handed a tougher assignment to start the season.
'If it was only about me and the boss, then maybe it might be a more even fight,' said McLeish.
'But he has got untold riches in terms of ability, financial clout, technical ability, speed, strength - he has everything.
They are a top, top club in everything they do.
'For us to compete with Manchester United is going to be very difficult but that is the challenge that faces every team that plays them.
They are the champions, everywhere they go they are feted, and we are going into the lions' den this weekend. Our players will need to punch above their weight.'
Birmingham are hampered by a lengthy injury list and a dreadful record against United having not beaten them since 1978.
They also travel there without a handful of players including defenders Liam Ridgewell, Martin Taylor, Scott Dann, Giovanny Espinoza and David Murphy.
That means new signing Roger Johnson could be paired with Franck Queudrue in the centre of defence with new signing Gregory Vignal making his debut at left-back. However striker Cameron Jerome believes City are still capable of pulling off a shock win.
The 22-year-old said: 'We are going there with confidence we can hold our own and maybe cause an upset there.'