One emotion unites supporters on both sides of the Wear-Tyne divide.
Despite all the bluster, bile and banter, fans – above all else – don’t want to savour the misery of finishing on the losing side on derby day.
While Sunderland supporters will inevitably experience a sense of dejection today if the Black Cats only come away from the Stadium of Light with a point, there is also that sense of relief that things “could have been worse”.
After spending his formative years in the Northumbrian town of Killingworth, Jack Colback is well aware of those duel emotions which will consume supporters – the desperation to win and the equal desperation to avoid defeat.
But ahead of what will be his fourth derby outing, Colback says Sunderland’s players must ignore the safety-first concerns over avoiding defeat and concentrate their efforts on securing only a third derby victory on Wearside in 45 years.
Colback said: “Fans would take a draw because that’s how intense it is and a defeat to them is unthinkable.
“But hopefully we can give them that win.
“There seems to be that added bit of pressure because defeat at home isn’t an option.
“Against other teams, if you get beaten at home, the fans will be disappointed but they can live with that.
“So that gives you that bit of pressure, but that’s what you’re in football for.
“You can’t get caught too much into it.
“It’s good for me that I’ve grown up around it and I want to be on the winning side this year.”
* Full story in this weekend’s derby special Football Echo