IT has been circled on the calendar for months – the jokes about earthquake damage causing millions of pounds worth of improvements have been done to death, as have the threats of keyboard warriors on either side of the divide.

That’s right, it’s derby time again.

Almost two years since the last one and much has changed.

For one, we are now back in the position that most Saints fans are accustomed to – above Pompey.

But, as ever, we appear to be doing things the hard way.

For most of this season, Saints have been flying and playing some fantastic football.

Yet over the last few weeks, questions have begun to be raised about our away form and injuries have shown the squad to be a little thin.

However, that pales into insignificance when you consider the ongoing woes at Fratton Park.

Chairman arrested, implicated in a £250m bank investigation, smallest squad in the league and the threat of a points deduction refusing to go away.

Now is not a great time to be a Pompey fan and they would much rather have our problems than the ones they currently face.

The last time we played them, despite being almost 40 places below them in the league, the game was much closer than the 4-1 scoreline suggested.

Their final three goals came in the last 25 minutes or so from players they couldn’t pay.

Those Pompey team members have long since gone, replaced by purchases and loans more becoming of Portsmouth’s financial muscle.

Meanwhile, most of the Saints team are still here and have been added to with some quality additions.

All Saints fans know that and I know most find it hard to get too worried when Pompey fans gloat about that result.

So, on paper and through red-and-white tinted glasses, we’re certain to win, right?

Well, those of us who have been supporting Saints for long enough know that is not how this club works.

The ability to throw a spanner in the works has long been endemic.

Adkins (and Pardew before him) have done well to largely eradicate that problem over the last two years, as shown by the relentless march to promotion at the tail end of last season.

Some scars take a long time to heal though, so I can’t help but worry about what might be.

But, unlike us fans, the Saints players need not fear the past.

They know what they can do and can point to some of the hidings they have handed out already to better teams than Pompey this season.

So, while in one respect this is just another potential three points on the way to possible promotion, it also presents a nice opportunity to send a message – not just to Pompey, but to the rest of football: The Saints are coming back.