It was a broadside that didn't miss the mark.
In the aftermath of GJ Gardner Wanganui Athletic's comfortable Lotto Federation League home win over Hokowhitu FC last Saturday, Athletic coach Jason King took a moment to publicly remind the local football community of a real fun statistic.
In two-and-a-half seasons in charge, he has never lost a game to Versatile Wanganui City.
City were not going to lack for motivation in any case, coming into what is the most anticipated clash of the season to date, and with their tails up after doing what Athletic couldn't by beating New Plymouth Rangers away, injured co-coach Anthony Bell feels tomorrow is the final step to confirm their resurgence.
"To wipe that smirk off his face would be great," Bell said, referencing King's statement.
"One hundred per cent. We had our best turn out for training last night of the year.
"For a lot of players...we've got players who have played up to ten seasons, so that's up to 20 derby games.
"City carried a lot of victories, two plus years ago, and the tables have turned.
"Has the time come for us to turn the table once again?"
Assisting King to keep that clean sheet is the fact when he first took the reins in 2017, City were rebuilding under Kelvin Francis in the lower tier Horizons Premiership, leaving the annual end-of-season Charity Cup competition as the sole opportunity for a derby clash.
Football: Wanganui City pumped after away win over New Plymouth Rangers
Football: Athletic earn back-to-back wins as derby looms
Whanganui can't hold back Hokowhitu tide in Wembley Park scrap
City returned to the League last year and have slowly crept back at their Wembley Park neighbours, to the point neither team could be separated in game play during their last two encounters – having a clumsy scoreless draw on opening day in April which both sides hated, to followup last year's Charity Cup classic when Athletic kept the prize on a 4-3 penalty shootout.
Neighbours on the 2019 League table in fifth and sixth, City (5-3-3) remain attack-orientated with their 30 goals being tied for fourth-best overall, although they can be vulnerable with 23 conceded, while Athletic (5-2-4) have lost firepower up front yet back themselves to stay in any match for the full 90 minutes, as evidenced by the second-best defensive record of 17 goals conceded to just 18 scored.
That stonewall pressure has taken them to four wins in their last five games, keeping pace with City, who after their own awkward start with a lot of road games, have not lost since mid-May.
"We've gone two months unbeaten, we are going to take that confidence into the game," said Bell.
"I'm pretty confident, it looks quite favourable to us."
Despite club pride being on the line, City are still not going to take the chance on Jack Jonas, who came off 20 minutes into their game in New Plymouth, given next weekend is their home Federation Cup game with Hawke's Bay's Western Rangers.
"The Cup quarterfinal is the silverware, we have to be thinking about that," said Bell.
Nonetheless, code-hopper Jake Lockett, with five goals in four games, is available for the full match as his Marist Buffalos rugby team is on a bye week, while Adam Gill, man of the match against Rangers, has returned at just the right time.
Young defenders Jack Donaldson and Ben Walkly have been given starting berths in recent weeks, which should now serve them well coming off the bench, with the roster replenished.
The gamble to not take Zane Robinson to Taranaki has paid off as his achilles needed the extra recovery time, so along with veteran Chris Annabell being available, Bell and fellow co-coach Latham Berry could return to their preferred gameplan of leaving a regular starter on the bench to be their second-half impact player.
"The break's probably done him [good]. He's looking sharp," said Bell of Robinson.
"We're spoilt for choice at the moment.
"We have the option there to finish the game with a team that a lot of teams in this League would struggle to put out.
"A lot has happened since opening day. There's one point between us after 12 rounds, it shows how well both teams have gone."
King was not expecting anything less than City's reaction to his statement.
"Of course not. I was thinking as soon as the words left my mouth, 'there's fuel for the fire'."
With the GJ Gardner Wanganui Athletic Reserves being on a bye week in the Premiership, King also had a reinforced roster from which to pick his team, and again will be looking to eager youngsters to counteract Donaldson and Walkly should they take the field.
"I'm taking a full bench – gives us five subs to use although you only use three.
"While it still is another game, they would love to take the pitch and add their history to a derby game.
"We've had a good win and City have had their good run.
"There's two teams going to be going out there who have their tails up.
"I'd be bitterly disappointed if there's a repeat of the opening game of the season."
Even without the still injured Ryan Holden up front, while Scott Burney will be going it alone without brother Steve, Athletic do have their weapons.
New winger Divnesh Dayal has been putting his best foot forward, working with Jude Hiri, while Athletic's centre back pairing have been imposing in recent weeks.
Peter Czerwonka picked up a goal against Hokowhitu in his comeback from his rib injuries, and while King is dubious he has recovered 100 per cent, there's no point in asking the WAFC club president, who would rather lie than miss out on this derby clash.
Back from his American university scholarship, big Shaan Stuart has been leading the defence, in partnership with Karan Holland and goalie Matt Calvert, and Stuart will be up for the big match – given his history with both clubs.
"Shaan hasn't played a derby for a few years," said King.
"We've got to stick to our game, try to back ourselves.
"As an optimist, I've just got to say, I'm still looking for my clean record tomorrow."
Expect the biggest, and rowdiest, crowd of the season so far at Wembley Park No 1 this afternoon, kickoff 2.45pm.