The FA Cup final brings Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte together again in a game that means a huge amount to them in their personal battle and also with their standings at their clubs.
Conte v Mourinho go head-to-head at Wembley
Cup of solace
Rarely have either of these managers experienced trophyless seasons. Conte won the Premier League title in his first season in England. Mourinho has 20-something trophies - the exact number depends on Community Shields, which the Portuguese adds and others subtract - from his long and successful career. The FA Cup is the pair's last remaining chance of silverware this campaign.
There is no love lost between Mourinho and Conte, the Portuguese's permanent successor as Chelsea boss. The pair have engaged in a lengthy feud since the Italian's arrival at Stamford Bridge. It began in earnest when Mourinho accused Conte of being disrespectful as United were beaten 4-0 at Stamford Bridge. And it ignited as the FA Cup began in January, with the insults growing in their intensity and becoming ever more personal. A ceasefire may only be temporary.
Chelsea have won three of the five clashes since the start of the 2016-17 season, when Mourinho and Conte took up their posts. But the momentum appears to be shifting to United, who won 2-1 at Old Trafford in February. Conte's exit at the end of this season appears to be something of a formality, at times acknowledged by the players' performances. And United are beginning to learn from Mourinho how to win the big games.
The attacking verve United are renowned for has not always been present since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure in 2013. Mourinho, ever the pragmatist, seems to struggle with the scrutiny his tactics have faced. His approach is more cautious than Conte's. Although the Italian has also adjusted to a defensive mindset at times this season. Both sides are dangerous on the counter attack and that might result in an open contest.
Conte's position has been the subject of speculation all season. But he negotiated successive losses to Bournemouth and Watford and continued, despite the league season coming to a limp conclusion. It appears a parting of the ways is inevitable. Mourinho hopes he is building a dynasty at Old Trafford. He needs style, substance and silverware to prove it.
How did Conte v Mourinho feud develop?
The first meeting between Mourinho and Conte ended in embarrassment for the former as Chelsea won 4-0. The Italian's touchline antics appeared to irk the Portuguese as he said something in Conte's ear after the final whistle. Reports in the Italian media suggested Mourinho told Conte: "You don't celebrate like that at 4-0, you can do it at 1-0, otherwise it's humiliating for us". Neither boss divulged what was said but Conte told Sky Italia: "I've been a player too and I know how to behave."
Another Stamford Bridge encounter, another spiky exchange between the two, who had to be separated after Marcos Alonso was fouled. Ander Herrera was sent off for two yellow cards picked up in tackles made on Eden Hazard, and Blues boss Conte was livid with what he perceived to be a deliberate ploy against the Belgian: "A tactic to play and go to kick an opponent? It's not football for me," he said. Mourinho was called 'Judas' by a section of the home crowd. Responding in his post-match media conference, the Portuguese - Chelsea's most successful manager - said: "They can call me what they want. "Until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I'm the number one. "When they have somebody that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I become number two. Until this moment Judas is number one."
Conte aimed another dig in the direction of Mourinho and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as his team closed on their title triumph. "This season it's very important to understand that it's not always about who spends more money who wins," he said. "This season isn't the only season both Manchester clubs have spent a lot of money. Look at the past. "It's right for them to do this, to reinforce their teams, if they think this is the right way to win the title. (But) every single club decides their own strategy."
Chelsea entered the new campaign knowing the last time they tried to defend their title, under Mourinho, it ended in disastrous fashion as they finished 10th having axed the Portuguese in December when they were just one point above the relegation zone. It was not lost on Conte, who said in quotes published on espn.co.uk: "We know the difficulty of the next season and for sure we want to avoid the Mourinho season with Chelsea. "Two years ago the team ended the league in 10th place and we want to try to avoid this."
When those comments were put to Mourinho at a press conference in Norway after his team had beaten Valerenga 3-0, he responded with a curious turn of phrase. "I could answer in many different ways," he said. "But I'm not going to lose my hair to speak about Antonio Conte." The Italian had a visibly receding hairline towards the end of his playing career but now boasts flowing locks.
Mourinho got under Conte's skin when he made a remark about his rivals bemoaning their lengthy injury lists. Without specifically stating who he was referring to, the United boss said: "Other managers, they cry, they cry, they cry when some player is injured. I don't cry." Conte was rubbed up the wrong way, and hit back by saying: "A lot of time Mourinho has to see what happens at Chelsea. A lot of time, also last season. "I think he has to think about his team and stop... to look at himself, not the others."
Mourinho's claim he did not need to behave like "a clown" during games to show his passion was treated as a personal affront by Conte. Chelsea's boss bit back by suggesting Mourinho had "demenza senile", which translates to senile dementia. In response, Mourinho appeared to make a pointed reference to match-fixing. "What never happened to me and will never happen to me is to be suspended for match-fixing," he said. Conte again hit back, calling the Portuguese a "fake" after an apparent show of support to sacked Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, and a "little man" for his match-fixing comments.
Both managers refused to speak about the spat ahead of the Premier League clash at Old Trafford and the animosity between the two men was put aside - in public at least - as they shook hands before and after the match. "The handshake doesn't need any words," Mourinho side after his side's 2-1 win. "I think that is what me and Antonio want to show to everyone. Mourinho and Conte, they are not two ordinary persons in football. We have a history, we have an image, and I'm really happy with that." Conte added: "He wanted to shake hands and we did this."