It was only a few moons ago that Spurs and Villa were both evenly equipped in their missions to disrupt the settled top four. In the cruel light of 2012 both teams sit on opposite ends of the Champions League continuum.
Under the guidance of Harry Redknapp Tottenham managed to maintain that challenge, even enjoy an exciting foray into the Champions League. Now under Andre Villa Boas expectations remain equally high and they should be there or thereabouts come May.
Villa on the other hand has hastily been moving further and further away from the Promised Land, nearly suffering the embarrassment of relegation last season. But the man (McLeish) responsible for such humiliation has gone, and with Lambert Villa fans are coated in optimism.
Not that they will want to be unrealistic. Villa has only won three times at White Hart Lane in 19 Premier League attempts. Tottenham are unbeaten since the first day of the season and will still be buoyed by their heroics at Old Trafford last weekend.
For Spurs Brad Friedel will be expected to reclaim the No.1 spot and Adebayor will be pushing, the in-form, Defoe for the sole striking birth that AVB seems to favour.
Villa have no fresh injury problems, the major decision for Lambert is most likely to be what combination of players will feature up front. That is of course if he goes with two strikers? Lambert is well known for adapting his formations depending on the opposition.
With Spurs odds on to win on Sunday, Villa will be hoping that they are suffering from a European hangover, after fielding a hearty mid week side. Villa will also be encouraged by their performances away from home at Newcastle and Man City, where again they were expected to lose.
It may not be as one sided as it seems come Sunday.
image: © ell brown