The Steel City derby, the fixture that every Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday fan looks for first.
After half a decade in different divisions, the two great rivals met for the first time in five years in 2017/18. The occasion didn’t disappoint, with newly promoted Blades leaving Hillsborough with the bragging rights after winning 4-2.
Yet since then the match has become an increasingly dull affair. After last night’s stalemate the last three Steel City derbies have all ended 0-0.
Many believe Chris Wilder’s side play the most exciting brand of football in the Championship. The Owls have been reinvigorated under new manager Steve Bruce.
And yet there were just two shots on target in a tense and, in truth, forgetful game at Hillsborough.
So what’s gone wrong?
Just as many finals are decided by one goal, or big televised clashes in the Premier League are often underwhelming, there is a danger the Steel City derby has become over-hyped.
Wilder is a boyhood United fan and former player. His comments about the rivalry with Wednesday therefore steer clear of the sedate, media-managed line we’re so used to.
“Other cities shout about their derbies. Why shouldn’t we shout about our derby?” Wilder told the Sheffield Star before the match.
“There might be bigger fan bases in Liverpool or Newcastle, but try telling people here those games are bigger. We’ll have two teams going for a win, full tilt.
“The message we want to send out is two teams, in a passionate city, going at it in the right way.”
Wilder’s comments are refreshing and inspiring, showing the supporters he is one of them. There is no falseness and are presumably designed to fire up the players.
Yet the teams weren’t going “full tilt.” Far from it.
Perhaps inadvertently what Wilder is saying is having the opposite effect, because for large periods yesterday an exciting Blades side whom only Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion have scored more than this season looked nervy and unsure.