Former Manchester United star Quinton Fortune has claimed Jose Mourinho should be more worried about the explosive second weekend showdown at Old Trafford than new Red Devils boss David Moyes.
Fortune described United's opening five fixtures, which start at Swansea, followed by that titanic meeting with Chelsea before trips to Liverpool and Manchester City, as "unbelievable". Mourinho could be excused a wry smile considering he lost just once in the Premier League to United, and defeated them in the Champions League with Real Madrid this season, and has never been beaten by Moyes.
However, Fortune feels there is an element of the unknown about the Red Devils, which will make the man who has been touted as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor feel slightly uneasy. "Mourinho has been boasting about his record against United," Fortune told MUTV. "He always brings it up."
He added: "But this is a different manager, with a different style of play. If David Moyes brings the same desire and fighting spirit that he had at Everton I am sure Mourinho will find it tough.
"He is playing a completely different United and I am sure he is worried about that. He knew Sir Alex Ferguson for many years. He knows what type of team to play against him. It is a different ball game now."
One-time United defender Henning Berg accepted it was a tough start, although pointing out the uncertainty over Michael Laudrup's position at Swansea may be an advantage for United.
However, with United, Chelsea and Manchester City under different stewardship, he feels it puts even more emphasis on the respective pre-season campaigns.
"The recruitment in August is going to be important," he said. "If they are not 100 per cent sure about bringing a player in, this might tip it. It will be interesting to see how long it takes these teams to get to their best form. Looking at these fixtures, they will have to get there quickly."
Cardiff's Mark Hudson, whose team open at West Ham, declared himself fit for the forthcoming campaign.
The Bluebirds captain, who missed the end of the Championship-winning campaign with ankle trouble, said: "I'm back running now, I've been in the last 10 days and I will be ready to start when everyone else is back in."