Bruce spent nearly six years at Blues, steering them to promotion twice and keeping them in the top flight for four successive seasons despite having only limited funds to spend.
McLeish wants the fans to recognise Bruce's record at City before kick-off, but then to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the Black Cats.
McLeish said: "Steve is where he is now because he did a good job at Birmingham and I'd like to think, if I can last as long as Steve, then we will be doing something right here.
"Now he is doing a good job at Sunderland. Steve has spent a few quid and he has spent it wisely and brought in good players.
"He has mastered that in the last three or four years and done a lot of good, solid business.
"I think Steve should get a nice polite clap from the crowd when he walks down the track to the dug-out because of the sterling work he did here.
"But then the fans have got to get right onto the Sunderland players' backs after that, give them absolute dog's abuse, be relentless and get back to the type of fans that Steve inherited when he came to Birmingham.
"At that time the City fans were notorious for their vociferous support for the home team and also for the way they unsettled the away team."
Carson Yeung will oversee his first home game since taking control of Birmingham and McLeish senses the fans are relishing a new era at the club after 16 years under David Sullivan and
The former Scotland boss said: "It is a new era. The fans got a wee bit fed up over the last few years. They have been a little bit doom and gloom.
"I'm not casting anything against the the previous board. It's just that people get into a rut and they just fell out of love with the club a wee bit.
"Now it is time for a new era and the Blues fans to give their full backing and I sense an excitement amongst them."
McLeish is looking for Blues to turn promising performances into points and is aware of the need to start winning games at home after successive defeats against Aston Villa and Bolton.
He added: "In nine games I don't think we have played badly. The Burnley game was the only one where I felt we didn't do ourselves justice.
"From the other eight games we have not had the return of points we should have had, but we are where we are and you have to get points on the board.
"I've said home games keep you in the Premier League and we have got to start winning our home games.
"We have lost the last two and, although they were games we shouldn't have lost, that is what happened."
McLeish has been promised up to £40million to spend in January and will be putting the accent on quality rather than quantity.
He said: "That is what I am focused on, quality. For a few years in management I've tried to add top quality to my squads.
"I've done it in parts but I've not been able to fully get what I wanted. Maybe this is the chance to do that.
"It is a difficult period to try and get players in but, the last January we were in the Premier League, I could have got a couple of players that would have made a difference in terms of staying up."
Franck Queudrue and Stuart Parnaby are available after injury. Queudrue, who has been converted from left-back into a central defender this season, and right-back Parnaby have been included in the squad after recovering from hamstring problems.
On-loan Sunderland midfielder Teemu Tainio is ineligible to face Bruce's side.