Russia's most decorated club and the current Premier League leaders Spartak Moscow face a tough test of their title credentials on Sunday when they travel to Kuban Krasnodar.
Nine-time champions Spartak have been resurgent in the early stages of the new season after a disappointing 2012-2013, taking a crucial advantage over pre-season favourites Anzhi, who are floundering in the bottom half of the table.
Spartak come into the match without their first-choice Ukrainian goalkeeper Andrei Dykan, defender Sergei Bryzgalov and Brazilian midfielder Romulo.
They also suffered another loss as Nigerian striker Emanuel Emenike left the club to continue his career with Turkish high-flyers Fenerbahce.
Though Spartak have a perfect record of nine points in three matches, manager Valery Karpin has issued a warning to his players not to get carried away.
"We should not give way to euphoria. Last season we also started with three wins but later suffered a series of unexpected points losses," Karpin told reporters.
"We should keep concentrated to avoid repeating our previous mistakes."
Kuban, who are currently fourth, will be looking to give new Romanian manager Dorinel Munteanu a positive start following Leonid Kuchuk's departure to Lokomotiv Mosocw.
Anzhi Makhachkala, tipped for the title ahead of the season's start, have been the biggest disappointment so far as they are winless and down in 12th.
On Friday Anzhi host Rostov, currently in a share of second spot with reigning champions CSKA Moscow, both on seven points.
However, Anzhi's Cameroon skipper Samuel Eto'o remains confident.
"We all will work even more to earn the victories," Eto'o wrote on his Instagram page. "Nothing can stop us on the way to our objective. Anzhi are the champions!"
Anzhi will be able to strengthen their line-up with Russian international striker Alexander Kokorin, who has served a three-match disciplinary ban, along with Brazilian defender Everton, who also spent one match on the sidelines after being sent off against Dynamo Moscow.
But the club from Makhachkala will still be without injured trio wingback Yury Zhirkov, defender Andrei Yeshchenko and Ivory Coast forward Lacina Traore.
Rostov meanwhile will likely start without French forward Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
CSKA, who proved the club's attacking strength with a win over city rivals Lokomotiv despite the departure of charismatic Brazilian forward Vagner Love to China, have a host of first team players injured as they prepare to travel to twice former champions Rubin Kazan.
Anzhi Makhachkala v Rostov
Volga Nizhny Novgorod v Zenit St Petersburg, Tomsk v Ural Yekaterinburg, Dynamo Moscow v Terek Grozny
Rubin Kazan v CSKA Moscow, Amkar Perm v Samara, Kuban Krasnodar v Spartak Moscow
Lokomotiv Moscow v FC Krasnodar