Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Peterborough United falls into a unique category – a non-competitive fixture for which there will be a police presence.
But while there is a very small potential for friction between the teams’ supporters, manager Aidy Boothroyd confesses to being an admirer of the way Peterborough United have progressed in recent years – to the point where he is happy to use their model of success as a template for his own team.
In the 1970s and 80s the idea of a friendly between the Cobblers and Posh would have been unthinkable, but it is a measure of the way the relationship between the two clubs has changed that such a fixture can now go ahead.
For years, players have represented both teams with distinction; Tommy Robson, Jim Hall, Wakeley Gage, Phil Chard.
The list is almost endless.
More recently, players have even been despatched on loan down the A605 with increasing regularity and varying degrees of success.
Last season’s Sixfields player of the year, Kelvin Langmead, was signed directly from London Road and is one of the club’s most liked players of the past decade.
Such nebulous details are of little concern to a practical man like Boothroyd, though.
Instead he sees the friendly as a good chance to sharpen his players up after two fairly routine games against United Counties League opposition.
And he will also be able to get a close-up look at a team representing a club he feels are of a similar size and stature to his own, and whose rise up the Football League provides a perfect blueprint.
“Although we think of them as our rivals they are a club we think we can emulate in many ways and we see them as a model for what we want to do,” said Boothroyd, who began his coaching career at London Road after a knee injury caused his retirement as a player there when aged just 27.
“They went from the bottom division to the championship in the space of a few years and they are a similarly-sized club to us.
“It’s the town where my son was born and it’s the club where I got my first coaching job so I’ve got an affinity for the place, like I have with all of the places I have been to.”
As pleasing as the wins at Sileby Rangers and Cogenhoe United were, they were games that were – for both teams – mainly exercises in fitness-building.
Saturday’s match will be an extension of that but with a degree of pride at stake.
With nothing on the line and temperatures set to be very high again, the game is unlikely to contain the kind of rattling challenges and confrontations that are the traditional hallmarks of derby games.
But there will be an extra edge to proceedings, an element that Boothroyd is relishing.
“I think there will be a good intensity to the game because they are a good side,” he said.
“They are a team that has just come down from the championship and they want to get some momentum in their results, just like we do.
“They’ll have a bigger squad than we will have, but these are the games you want to test yourselves in.
“It’s important that we continue the good work that we have done and at the same time build on it by looking to improve one or two things.”
Langmead will not get the chance to play against his former club after undergoing exploratory knee surgery this week.
It is unlikely another former Peterborough player, Clive Platt, will play either, as he continues his rehab alongside Chris Hackett and outside of the main group.
Roy O’Donovan and Lee Collins, who both sat out the game at Cogenhoe with minor injuries, should both come back into contentions and all four trial players are likely to again feature.