David Moyes thinks Manuel Pellegrini should not have branded City the only club in Manchester - and warned the Chilean that United are ready to rise again.
United and City renew hostilities at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, six months after Pellegrini's side beat their neighbours 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
Ever since that result, City have gone from strength to strength on the home front, while United have stumbled to one disappointing defeat after another.
A 12-point gap has now opened up between the two teams. Pellegrini's side are favourites for the title owing to their games in hand, while United look set for an unedifying venture into the Europa League next season.
And as City prepared to take on Barcelona in the Champions League last month Pellegrini appeared to poke fun at United's predicament.
"If you consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it is ours," the City manager said.
"But you cannot forget what United has done in previous years."
If the second sentence of that quote was supposed to be taken as a compliment, then it certainly has not gone down that way at United.
By using the words "previous years", the impression was that United's glory years were a thing of the past and that is certainly not something Moyes agrees with.
"Well Manchester United had lots and lots of seasons of domination ," the United boss answered when questioned about Pellegrini's comments for the first time.
"I don't think if I was a manager I would have turned round and necessarily said that we were the only club in Manchester because football does change, it goes in cycles."
Just last week Moyes was faced with questions about his future following claims - denied by sources at the club - that the United hierarchy were considering replacing their manager.
But the mood has changed somewhat since the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Moyes is far more buoyant about the prospects ahead for his team for the rest of the season and beyond.
"Hopefully we will be coming out of our (bad) period quickly," he said.
"Plans are afoot and try and make a real good go of it next season.
"We are not in the position we want to be just now but we will do everything we possibly can to do it next year."
A look at the statistics shows why the bookmakers have City down as favourites for the 167th Manchester derby.
City have won the last two derbies at Old Trafford - one of them was a whopping 6-1 victory - and United rarely troubled their old adversaries when they made the short trip across Mancunian Way in September.
City have scored 28 more goals than United this term and they have conceded seven fewer at the other end.
And other than a 1-0 win over Arsenal in November, United have failed to beat any of the sides in the top nine.
But Moyes is still confident of securing a win and he insisted that United are not so far behind City than the league table suggests.
He said: "I think we have got the level and we are not as far away as many people would have us and I have no doubt it will improve. We want to show we are still in there fighting.
"We will do everything we can to win. We go out to win every game, not just the derby game.
"Obviously it means a lot more to the supporters and the city if you win a derby game.
"We we want to try and perform better in the bigger games than what we have done.
"It will be important for us to show the level of what we have got."
United had to field Michael Carrick at centre-half at Upton Park on Saturday because of injuries to Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand. Nemanja Vidic was also absent through suspension.
The United captain remains banned for the visit of City, but Moyes would not give away anything about the fitness of the three injured players.
"For this Barclays Premier League game we'll do everything we possibly can to get the [injured] players back," was all that Moyes would say when questioned on the matter at his pre-match press conference.