Liverpool may have produced more of a miaow than a roar in the Premier League in recent months, but Carlo Ancelotti is not fooled.
He believes they will be lions with a tweaked tail in the Mersey derby this weekend, as they two sides go head to head in what is a surprising shoot out for a top four place.
And the Everton boss is adamant that his side must treat their derby opponents as the king of beasts, ready to inflict a mauling, if they are to end a depressing record of 21 years without a win at Anfield.
And after managing in some of the most passionate derbies in world football, the Italian is confident he knows what he is talking about.
“I had derbies in Milan, Madrid, everywhere. A derby is a special game, and special games bring more pressure, more fear sometimes,” he explained.
“But fear is not a bad thing in my opinion because if you don’t have fear then you are going in front of the lion thinking it is a cat. But it is not a cat, it is a lion, so fear is important to have. It can help you to be more focused.
“This is the point. You can be worried, you can have fear but you need to have motivation, concentration and also in this kind of game brave. You have to show your quality. You don’t have to be scared.”
His opposite number Jurgen Klopp has never lost a Merseyside derby, and Liverpool have to go back to 2010 for their last defeat in the fixture in any competition.
Yet the Reds go into the showdown with an almost unimaginable run of three consecutive defeats on home turf – a run that seemed not just impossible, but laughable, only three Anfield fixtures ago, when they had boasted an astonishing record of 68 Premier League games unbeaten in their stadium.
Home defeats are not like buses though, but personal wounds, which is why Ancelotti thinks the lion will wounded into fight on Saturday evening. He believes though, that Everton’s dismal record there could just help them, as daft as that sounds.
“It is not a normal game – if you think it is a normal game you are wrong. But no, for this game we don’t have pressure because the worst has happened a lot of times in the past.
“I think we are better compared to the past and think we can have more opportunities to get a result.”
Klopp thinks so too. He has so many good memories of the derby, he admitted he couldn’t list them all.
“A lot of favourite moments in derbies,” he said with a rare smile in what seemed a tense – or perhaps weary – press conference from the Reds boss. “I don’t want to mention them all now, but I had a lot.
“Sadio was involved. Divock was involved. Curtis was involved. There were a few!”
Yet he knows past results are not a guarantee of future success, as the last three home league matches have painfully proved. And he believes that Everton have a roar in them now, perhaps more than in all the time he’s faced them…because of their manager.
“They had good teams over the years and in specific games it was close. But a manage like Carlo helps each team in the world, that is clear,” he said.
“They have a really good squad so maybe they are closer than ever before. From a position in the table for sure, it is a while ago we were that close I think, I don’t know exactly, but probably closer than they have been before.”