Sergio Ramos has suggested Zinedine Zidane's knowledge of the Real Madrid dressing room has helped him to greater success than Jose Mourinho enjoyed at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho comes face-to-face with his former employers in Skopje on Tuesday, where Manchester United will take on Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
He led Madrid from 2010 to 2013, winning La Liga in 2011-12 but leaving at the end of the following season amid widespread reports of acrimonious relations with key players Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ramos.
The Portuguese was up to familiar tricks at his pre-match news conference, stating United would be keen on signing Gareth Bale if the Wales star is deemed surplus to requirements in the Spanish capital.
Ramos was asked to compare Mourinho to current boss Zidane – who has led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League crowns along with their first LaLiga title for five years - when he addressed the media.
"My view is that when a team has a coach it changes, every coach is different because if his system, tactics, and personality," said the Spain and Madrid captain, taking an initially diplomatic tone.
"One coach is not necessarily better than another. They are just different.
"Zizou was very good at understanding our dressing room as a former player. Maybe that gives him an advantage.
"One can look at the picture and draw different conclusions. I believe both are great coaches. We are lucky to be living this historical moment with Zizou."
Ramos went on to play down the suggestion that Mourinho decisively moulded his career as he transitioned from right-back to centre-half.
"I don't think that changed my career at all," he said. "Mourinho was just another coach I worked with in my football career and I have always learnt from others, from when I was a youngster at Sevilla.
"So I am very, very grateful but I don't think Mourinho has changed my life in football at all."
One event that certainly would have altered Ramos' course was a move to United, who tried to bring the player to Old Trafford in 2015.
"There was an opportunity [to join United] in the past but eventually my situation was resolved in a different manner," he added.
"We'll have to see what happens in the match, of course, but I am very grateful that I signed my last contract with Real Madrid.
"I am very grateful to Manchester United for the interest that they showed in the past but we are rivals now and we have to fight for the win."