Liverpool ripe for the picking in Merseyside Derby: Richard Buxton
Everton have their best chance of beating Liverpool for the first time since 2010
Everton's motivation in going all out to appoint Carlo Ancelotti has always been two-fold.
Not only does he possess both the pedigree and capability to restore their club to some belated former glories, but he also knows how to get one over on the neighbours.
Tomorrow's 237th Merseyside Derby represents the Toffees' best chance of taking the spoils from Liverpool - exactly 10 years to the day since they last achieved the feat.
Back then, the Reds were mired in the English Premier League's relegation zone; new owners Fenway Sports Group had not formulated their short-lived yet diabolical plan to carve up English football and Roy Hodgson was well on his way to ejection from the Anfield hot seat.
Much changed in the following decade, apart from Everton remaining their city's poor relatives, with numerous managers all failing to shift the balance of power locally.
David Moyes, who delivered that previous derby victory, once called clashes with Manchester City "like going into a gunfight with a knife", but the West Ham United manager spent more time waving the white flag against the Reds than going toe-to-toe with them.
That, however, could all be set to change if Ancelotti's Goodison Park revolution continues to bear fruit.
Since the Miracle of Istanbul, the Italian has had the beating of Liverpool in seven of their 13 meetings - twice with Chelsea, Real Madrid and Napoli and once with AC Milan - and ended on the losing side four times.
He also successfully delayed their long-awaited coronation during the opening weekend of Project Restart. Had the hosts' finishing touch proved more refined in June, they would have inflicted a then-second defeat on Juergen Klopp's champions-in-waiting last term, instead of settling for a 0-0 draw.
At Everton, panache has since replaced the pragmatism of a 4-4-2 system that prioritised nullifying opponents. Such a placeholder approach helped Ancelotti craft a team truly in his own image, now ably assisted by two former lieutenants in James Rodriguez and Allan.
A quick glance across Stanley Park gives the Champions League-winning coach further cause for optimism, with Liverpool's 7-2 thrashing by Aston Villa before the international break carrying a sense of foreboding ahead of their meeting with the early EPL leaders.
Alisson's absence through injury would see Adrian again thrown at the mercy of the spotlight. The Spaniard's positioning at Villa Park was questionable and a potential follow-up with the league's current in-form team already appears ominous.
Klopp and the Anfield brains cannot claim they were not forewarned about their stand-in stopper's erraticism. It has been a recurring theme throughout his time at the club and makes opposite number Jordan Pickford's blunders seem minor in comparison.
Beyond Adrian's liability, Liverpool still lack the usual swagger of defending champions, as shown by shipping four goals in their opening three league games, before the Villa mauling.
Whether the hangover from a 30-year wait to clinch the title is still permeating or the surreal nature of football in the coronavirus era has taken its toll remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain, though, the illusion of a relentless winning machine no longer hangs over Everton as it has done before many of their previous derbies.
Ancelotti has rarely stood on ceremony for Liverpool and he is unlikely to fall in line now that some much-needed equilibrium has reached the game's most successful English city.