Roberto Mancini's side beat Sir Alex Ferguson's men twice last season and won the title on goal difference - a factor that the Old Trafford boss attributed in part to being beaten by City 6-1 at home, meaning a 10-goal swing.
However, while the champions could regain top spot with a win against the Red Devils on Sunday, the England coach suggested that the twists and turns of last season have shown that the race may go down to the wire again.
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"Make no mistake, these are the best teams in England right now. They haven't been at their best yet and if there's one thing I would want to see on Sunday it's a step up in quality.
"My gut feeling assessing the Manchester derby on Sunday is to say that this is just another three points in a long season," he added. "In my years of fighting for titles and having watched several races unfold, Sunday's result will not have a pivotal influence on the eventual outcome.
"It is far too early to judge and there are too many twists and turns to come."
Neville suggested that it is the mentality of the Manchester clubs which means this result will not necessarily decide the title.
"Do I think that if United win, City will have suffered a crucial blow in retaining their title? No," he argued. "And, if City win, does that mean they will go on and win the league? No."
"The reason why it's impossible to call between these two is because of that mentality they now show. Even when City have suffered disappointments in the Champions League, they have been able to bounce back in the Premier League.
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A big defeat for either side could have a crucial impact on goal difference, about which Neville expects that Sir Alex will be reminding his players, considering the way in which City won the title last term.
"Although we can overstate the importance of individual games, when it came down to it, the goal difference City accrued in October last year at Old Trafford proved crucial," he observed.
"And those United players will receive another reminder from Sir Alex that, were they to lose at the Etihad Stadium, they would again be knocked off the top spot by City - on goal difference. And that's why this game has become the most important fixture in English football."