Big beasts Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien against Darren Fletcher (half-injured), Anderson (very raw) and Ryan Giggs (very old) hardly seems a fair contest.
And that is without considering United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's options - Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes or Nani - none of whom is in glittering form.
Failed experiment: Lampard (r) did not succeed in the Kaka role
Yet despite the apparent mismatch, Ferguson is confident there may be enough of a flaw in the Chelsea system to help United to a first win at Stamford Bridge since 2002 and end the 100 per cent home record of Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti since his arrival from AC Milan.
You can sense how much Ferguson is looking forward to a tactical battle with a manager who, like himself, has twice won the Champions League.
And it is Ferguson's opinion that the famed midfield diamond Ancelotti brought over from Italy in the summer might not work at Chelsea because they do not have the quick-thinking, fleet-footed playmaker needed behind the two strikers.
'Chelsea use the same system that Ancelotti operated in Milan,' said Sir Alex. 'The difference is he had Kaka there.
'Kaka made a hell of a difference to how well the system worked, and Chelsea are still looking for someone in a forward role to balance their team better.
Focal point: Kaka's skill made Milan's diamond sparkle
'They tried Lampard there, they tried Deco. They have even tried Florent Malouda and now they've brought Joe Cole back in. It's not the finished article at the moment, though they have the experience to cope with it. At least they understand a change of tactics better than younger players.'
Although Chelsea have suffered unlikely defeats at Wigan and Aston Villa, their problems have been minor compared with United, whose form has stuttered since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Real Madrid.
It says a lot about their ability to grind out results when not playing well that they arrive at Stamford Bridge only two points behind Chelsea. And they would leave as the new Premier League leaders should they win.
The year-long absence of Owen Hargreaves with major knee problems is being felt more and more in big games and he is unlikely to return until the new year, even though he is now back in light training.
When Fletcher is also out, United's midfield is a car crash, as seen in the Champions League final defeat against Barcelona and even two weeks ago in a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Fletcher will play on painkilling injections today, having to wait for an ankle operation as Ferguson's favourite workhorse Ji-sung Park is also out through injury. It is a far cry from a decade ago when United boasted the best midfield quartet in Europe with David Beckham, Roy Keane, Scholes and Giggs.
Stir the pot: Ferguson is looking forward to facing Chelsea
The United manager admits he no longer has the players - Wayne Rooney apart - who can match the consistent high level performances of Keane and Beckham in their prime.
But he says the pace of the modern game has also contributed to the chopping and changing in his line-ups.
'A decade ago, Keane, Beckham and Giggs were young, fresh and determined and could run all day,' he said.
'They were blessed with these things and we don't have those type of players now.
'The pace of our games is incredible so you cannot play the same players all the time. Every United game is harder than anyone else's. Everyone lifts their game for us.
There are two to three who'd always expect to play in a big game, and Darren is one of them.
'He's a big-game player and it took a long time for the public and the Press to acknowledge that.'
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Explore more:People:Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Essien, Carlo Ancelotti, Roy Keane, Deco, MICHAEL CARRICK, Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Joe Cole, Darren Fletcher, David Beckham, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Owen HargreavesPlaces:Milan, Italy, Europe