Last season's FA Cup semi-final was billed as a key fixture in the history of the two clubs while City's 6-1 win at Old Trafford and the Reds' dumping of the Blues out of the FA Cup on their own patch were also deemed pivotal moments.
Ahead of a match of undisputed importance, the manager admits that City are overtaking Liverpool as United's main rivals.
"We have to get used to playing City in important games," he stated. "They're not going away. The financial support they have means we'll meet them in a lot of big games. Cup finals, semi-finals... we've already done that. They're there.
"Therefore, if we're going to be contesting with them for the league titles regularly - and I think we will be - it will become almost as important as the Liverpool derbies. Maybe not in terms of the emotions - the Liverpool-United games are emotional. But certainly, in terms of importance, this supersedes Liverpool at the moment because City are our direct opponents.
"Manchester City are up against us to win titles. We have to focus on the team who can affect our progress in terms of winning the league."