The cocky pretenders always seem to push it too far when they are chasing the dream, but they are not always left eating their words.
Related ArticlesMan Utd 3 Man City 1; agg 4-3United face action after Bellamy hitGiggs: winning trophy better than beating CityMan City Transfer TalkTransfer TalkSport on televisionManchester City have form for talking up their ambitions and falling flat on their face, however. Malcolm Allison declared that Joe Mercer's league champions were ready to conquer Europe in 1968 before being humbled by Fenerbahce at the first hurdle of that season's European Cup, while Joe Royle promised a trophy during his reign as manager, only to suffer as many relegations as promotion.
City are now talking big again, but this time Ferguson's 'noisy neighbours' have a bucketload of winning lottery tickets at their disposal to fund their ambitions. Yet when their much-maligned chief executive, Garry Cook, claimed last week that City would become 'without doubt, the biggest and best football club in the world,' the old jokes about City emerged once more.
Cook, a former Nike executive, has endured a turbulent time at Eastlands and his latest boast last week prompted even more scorn. But despite Cook's public displays of foot-in-mouth disease, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan and his advisers are understood to be supportive of their CEO and keen to snuff out the chatter suggesting that he will be moved on in the summer.
Good or bad, Cook is raising City's profile. The fact that they are getting under United's skin is precisely what they want. Off the pitch, they are landing punches and last week's 2-1 first-leg victory suggested they are beginning to do the same on it.
Becoming the 'biggest and best club in the world' is going to take some doing, however. United will always cast a shadow, while the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and those 'bottlers' at AC Milan will not be shifted from their own perches any time soon.
If Manchester is to become football's new Milan, then this Carling Cup semi-final must be replayed in the Champions League. That competition is a well-worn path for United. City are still rubbing their noses on the window, outsiders looking in on football's most exclusive party.
But don't write them off. As Cook will know, Nike came from nowhere to topple adidas as the world's biggest sportswear brand, so maybe his dream will come true after all.