When Sheffield United turned to former Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Wilson as their new boss in May, the news was not well received at Bramall Lane.
As Wilson was outlining his vision for the club, a group of Blades supporters held a rally outside the ground, unfurling a banner expressing their disapproval at the appointment of a former Owl.
If the protest was a reminder of one of the most intense city rivalries in English football, it also marked the final chapter in a season to forget for the Sheffield clubs.
United suffered relegation, Wednesday flirted with liquidation. Even Sheffield FC, the world's oldest club,
were forced to sell the family silver
just to stay afloat.
With the release of next season's fixture list, the Steel City derby has returned to the calendar, with the first match taking place at Bramall Lane on October 15. But a game that was a highlight of the newly-formed Premier League almost 20 years ago, will now be played at League One level for the first time in more than 30 seasons.
Sheffield United Supporters' Club
“Both clubs have got very good fanbases and should be doing better, but you're only as good as the team that is on the pitch.”
For fans of both teams, the decline of their city as a footballing power is hard to take.
"It's a diabolical state of affairs," Pete Whitney, chairman of Sheffield United's Official Supporters' Club, told BBC Sport.
"Both clubs have got very good fanbases and should be doing better, but you're only as good as the team that is on the pitch."
Marc Duffy, vice chairman of Owls' supporters' group Wednesdayite, agrees. "It's not good for Sheffield as a city," he said.
"You get more exposure if you've got two clubs in the Premier League doing well, but we need to get it into our heads that we are in League One, we're on equal terms with League One clubs, and we have to build from there."
Wednesday's woes have been well-documented. Since dropping out of the Premier League in 2000, there has been little to cheer on the pitch at Hillsborough.
After topping the table in the early stages of last season, a slump in form cost manager Alan Irvine his job. A pre-Christmas takeover from former Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric saved the Owls from administration, but the team could only finish 15th in League One under new boss Gary Megson.
Danny Wilson's arrival as manager has angered many Sheffield United fans.
With Wednesday having overcome their financial problems, Duffy is upbeat about the future.
"When people talk about the decline of Sheffield football, they are 10 years late with Wednesday - I think our decline is over now. This is the rebuilding process," he told BBC Sport.
"Mandaric is a fantastic chairman who gets results, but clearly he found so much wrong with the club when he took it over, that he couldn't achieve promotion in one season.
"Mandaric is prepared to put his money where his mouth is. He doesn't want to be at Sheffield Wednesday for ever, and he's said that himself. He's a businessman, he's not a fan - he wants to sell the club at a profit as quickly as possible.
"Everything's changing at the club. We are currently in a bad position, but we're not staying there."
Five years after relegation from the Premier League, Sheffield United have joined their neighbours in League One thanks to a season which began and ended in managerial turmoil.
Kevin Blackwell was sacked in August 2010, and replaced by the inexperienced Gary Speed. By December, Speed had left Bramall Lane to become Wales coach, and United turned to Port Vale boss Micky Adams in a bid to stabilise. The boyhood Blades fan managed just four wins in 24 games, the club was relegated, and Adams was fired.
Sheffield clubs' divisional standings since formation of Premier League
"Personally, I thought Adams should have been given time to put things right," said Whitney.
"By the time he came in in January, we'd had four managers in one season, if you count John Carver as caretaker. They all inherited somebody else's squad, with players they might never have signed."
As United's fortunes have suffered, owner Kevin McCabe has faced criticism for his attempts to expand the club's fanbase abroad, rather than focusing on matters at Bramall Lane.
Chinese team Chengdu Wuniu was bought by United in 2006, and renamed Chengdu Blades in a quest by the South Yorkshire club to gain a commercial foothold in Asia.
Links were also established with Ferencváros in Hungary, Central Coast Mariners of Australia and White Star Woluwe of Belgium, with the aim of sharing and jointly developing young players.
- Founded: 1889
- Top-flight title wins: 1897/98
- FA Cup wins: 1899, 1902, 1915, 1925
- Ground: Bramall Lane
- Capacity: 32,702
- Average attendance 2010/11: 20,632
"People say it's a contributory factor to the decline, but it was part of McCabe's dream of making United a worldwide name, and we can't fault him for that," added Whitney.
"We've also got a partnership with Sao Paulo in Brazil, but until the first player from Sao Paulo runs down the tunnel at Bramall Lane, that strategy will always be held to question."
United may have a global ambitions, but local pride has always been of the utmost importance to both sets of supporters.
Wednesday fans still sing about the time the two sides met at Hillsborough in the old Division Three on 26 December 1979. The Owls won 4-0 in a game that became known as the Boxing Day Massacre. The crowd of 49,309 is still a record attendance for the English third tier.
But United and Wednesday's return to the lower divisions has led some to ask whether the city of Sheffield can ever again sustain two successful football clubs. There has been debate on message boards and radio phone-ins about the benefits of pooling resources or even sharing a ground.
“Wednesday and United would each get crowds of 25,000 on a good day, but a fair percentage of that comes from the rivalry with the other team. We need each other.”
Mention the word 'merger' though, and the response is unequivocal.
"It will never happen," said Whitney. "The rivalry is too tribal, people are too set in their ways.
"I know fanatical Blades fans who never miss a game, even friendlies. If you gave them £100 and a free executive box, they would not set foot in Hillsborough. That's the way they are - they will never change."
According to Duffy there is also an element of mutual dependency between the clubs.
"Wednesday and United would each get crowds of 25,000 on a good day, but a good percentage of that comes from the rivalry with the other team," he said. "We need each other. A merger wouldn't happen. It can't happen. I can't see a feasible way for it to work at all."
Dr Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sport Business Strategy at Coventry University, says the Sheffield clubs could at least consider some method of joining forces as a way of reducing costs and boosting revenue streams.
"In terms of strategic integration, the extreme case would be that Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday become the same club. Culturally, that would be completely unacceptable and unpalatable to most fans of both teams," Chadwick told BBC Sport.
- Founded: 1867
- Top-flight title wins: 1902/03, 1903/04, 1928/29, 1929/30
- FA Cup wins: 1896, 1907, 1935
- League cup wins: 1991
- Ground: Hillsborough
- Capacity: 39,812
- Average attendance 2010/11: 17,817
"Ground sharing would also be difficult. Obviously it happens across the world with the likes of AC Milan and Inter, but in this country it is unheard of.
"The most realistic option would be to pool resources in other ways. For example, I'm sure Sheffield Wednesday have a marketing team, and so do Sheffield United. It may be that you could have one team representing both clubs so they co-market each other.
"Ultimately the acid test is whether there is an appetite inside the clubs for something like this, and a recognition that it could benefit them economically."
There are reasons for the Sheffield clubs to be optimistic about the new campaign.
United will hope that the success of their academy team, which made it to the final of the FA Youth Cup, will soon begin to filter through into the senior side.
Thanks to Mandaric, Wednesday are now on a sound financial footing, with an ability to compete in the transfer market that they have not had since the 1990s.
If the bookmakers are to be believed, both teams should be involved in the race for promotion come next May.
Owls and Blades everywhere will be praying that turns out to be the case.