Aberdeen Grammar start the new year knowing only a win will do.
They are battling to keep their top-four Premiership hopes alive when they meet bottom side Musselburgh at Rubislaw.
A defeat would leave the Aberdeen side in danger of sliding into the bottom two, especially as they have three of their four remaining games to come against Marr, Currie and Hawick, the top three in the league.
Grammar captain Sam Knudson acknowledged the importance of the game against the Stoneyhill side.
He said: “After our great start, winning five our first six games, we have inexplicably lost six of our last seven, failing to close out games we should have won, while compounding the situation with silly errors.
“This is a huge game, but with a near full-strength side available, a rare event, I am confident of getting a win.
“Having Greig Ryan back in the pack is a huge plus for us. He is a vital cog in the back row.
“They are also strong in this department, but we have been free scoring in the backs who should make the difference.’’
Across the road at Countesswells, Gordonians face an equally testing game against fellow league strugglers Whitecraigs.
The losers will be strong candidates to be relegated from National League 2, according to Gordonians head coach Ryan Morrice.
He said: “This is a season-defining game.
“Losing it is unthinkable, but over the break we got our mindset right, and I am very confident of picking up not only a win, but a try-bonus one.
“We have Matt Hillier coming into the scrum-half berth where his experience and know-how will be key.
“We know what is required, and have a strong pack for Matt to bully our way to victory.
“It’s a big occasion for the club, and a test of our character,’’ he said, adding: “We’ll be missing the services of centre and captain Danny Usugo, and lock Corey Buchan. But the replacements are well up to the task.’’
The big game in Caley Division 1 is at the Meadows where derby rivals Ellon and Garioch lock horns in what is sure to be a torrid affair, given the 42-year history of the fixture.
Ellon head coach Craig Parslow relished the opportunity to put one over their Inverurie opponents, but said: “We know it will be tough.’’
His opposite number, Charlie Catto will be looking for his side’s first win of the season, but pointed out his team had come within three points of winning on three occasions.
He said: “We have drawn one game as well, so we are due a win, and why not at the ground of our closest rivals? It promises to be a cracking game.’’
Aberdeen Wanderers will be bidding to make it four wins in a row at home to Alloa at Groats Road.
The most attractive game in Caley 2 North is likely to be at Rubislaw where 2nd Grammar meet promotion-seeking Mackie FPs.
Caley 3 North leaders RAF Lossiemouth host third-placed Aberdeen University while Caley 4 North leaders Aberdeen University Medics are at home to Deeside.