Holwell Sports manager Neil Miller is expecting a much closer contest than 12 months ago as his side make the three-and-a-half-mile trip to Signright Park in a healthier state.
In the corresponding fixture almost 12 months ago, with Miller little over a month into a new job in a higher league, the two sides were separated by 17 points and 11 places.
And the gap grew bigger as Melton ran in four first-half goals on their way to a 4-1 win in atrocious conditions.
But Miller has overhauled the squad radically since then, and with a season’s more experience under his belt, he goes into his third derby on Saturday with higher confidence.
His team have cut the deficit to just seven points and five places.
Miller said: “When you look at the two games last season, in the first we were very cautious and that didn’t do us any favours, and the second we were more gung-ho and that didn’t work for us ultimately.
“For the first game I was also probably bit naive, so we need to find something in the middle of those two approaches.”
His side go into the clash on the best run of form since Miller’s arrival from Cottesmore.
Holwell have tasted defeat just once in their last eight United Counties League matches, when 10 men fell to a late winner at top-five opponents.
“We are seven points better off than we were at this stage last season,” he said.
“And I thought we were unfortunate against Irchester.
“We showed unbelievable character to come back level in that game with 10 men and then missed a penalty to go in front. Seeing that passion and desire is what makes this job worthwhile.”
Miller added: “We have got a group of lads together that are just getting to know each other.
“We have managed to get ourselves a bigger squad with good strength in depth and good experience in the UCL.
“We have our own inhouse targets and I’m pretty confident they will be different to Melton’s.”
While their ambitions may fall slightly below what Melton will be building towards, Miller insists, unlike last December, there will be no clear favourites this weekend.
“I don’t see us as underdogs,” he said. “I think we are a team in transition and getting better as the games go by.
“If you ask if Melton have improved on where they are from last season, maybe not, but it’s hard to do that when you finish as high as they did.
“The fixture perhaps slightly favours Melton, but it’s 11 against 11 and anything can happen.”