What was once deemed a laughable rivalry after a 7-0 victory in May has become legitimate fear of a dominating NYC FC team that has by far the best record on the road of any MLS team in recent memory - in stark contrast to the Red Bulls, whose only road win in MLS this year came - ironically - in that big win over City.
Luckily for Jesse Marsch and company, Red Bull Arena has served as a comfortable place to regain momentum when needed. The Red Bulls have gone seven games unbeaten at home and Luis Robles has not pulled the ball out of the net since April - breaking numerous club records in the process.
That could all come to an end on Sunday afternoon though...
Unlike the Red Bulls' last five home matches against Orlando City, Portland, Seattle, Toronto and Chicago who were all either understaffed or struggling in their own ways, NYC FC is surging, healthy and above all talented from top to bottom. Jack Harrison has emerged as a top contender for Rookie of the Year, while Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard seemingly found the Fountain of Youth in June and have dominated the stat sheets. And David Villa is still the David Villa we know and must respect.
All of that said, the Red Bulls are comfortable, well-rested, relatively healthy (though still sorely missing Kemar Lawrence) and most importantly playing in Red Bull Arena. Whether or not Jesse Marsch can take advantage of the benefits remains to be seen.
Here is the Red Bulls predicted XI vs NYC FC:
GK Luis Robles
DF Connor Lade
DF Aurelien Collin
DF Damien Perrinelle
DF Chris Duvall - After Sal Zizzo's meek performance against Philadelphia, another piece of tinkering could be in the works.
MF Dax McCarty
MF Mike Grella - It feels like Grella hasn't gotten a week's rest in ages, but his attacking prowess will be needed against NYC FC.
MF Sacha Kljestan
MF Gonzalo Veron - It remains to be seen if Veron is suitable for Jesse Marsch's high-press system, but he could be invaluable to getting the team out to a quick start if he can create some solid chances
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips - After getting some rest this past week, Bradley looks to regain his goalscoring form against a team he has historically enjoyed playing.
It cannot be overstated that this will in all likelihood be the Red Bulls' biggest remaining test at home against conference opponents. With a five point deficit to NYC FC on the table, anything less than victory would likely make first place in the Eastern Conference a mere pipe dream.
What do you think?