Ten places and six points presently separate Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff City in the Championship standings.
But Darren Purse, who represented both clubs, knows which side he fancies to compete in the upper reaches of the second-tier of English football.
The 37-year-old told The Star: “Wednesday have made a very good start. I’ve spoken to a few people who I still know at the club and they say it’s a really nice, pally place to play football and I think that is showing in their performances.
“They are playing for the manager and that’s all you can ever ask. They are giving 100 per cent, putting their bodies on the line and it’s paying dividends on the pitch. It seems a happy place to play football.
“By contrast, Cardiff are struggling and had a poor result in the cup in midweek.”
Wednesday are sixth in the table after a positive start to the campaign and Purse, who plays for Southern League Premier Division club Chesham United following a short spell at IFK Mariehamn in Finland, said he is “not surprised” by their lofty league position.
“It just shows if you’ve got harmony in a dressing room and got everyone pulling in the right direction what you can achieve,” he said. “You can go a long way in the Championship by being a hard-working, honest side that is very well organised.
“Clearly that’s what Sheffield Wednesday are because they are picking up results by playing that way. They just need to continue what they are doing.”
One member of Wednesday’s backroom staff who Purse is extremely familiar with is assistant coach John Deehan.
“I know him really well,” he said. “John is a good, down to earth bloke who has managed in the top flight.
“He goes and watches lots of games but John will be the man who sits up in the stands and then make suggestions to Stuart [Gray]. John is that experienced person who Stuart can turn to when there are one or two issues that need correcting.”
Gray’s charges head to the Welsh capital seeking to bounce back after Wednesday’s 7-0 thrashing at Premier League champions Manchester City in the Capital One Cup. The Owls can take heart from the fact that they are unbeaten on the road in the league, winning three out of their opening four fixtures.
Purse said: “I think they’ve got to target the play-offs. Whether that is feasible or not, I don’t know but I would think they will be happy with the start they have had.
“If they get to around Christmas time and are still in a similar position, they should re-evaluate their goals and maybe add one or two bodies to the squad if they can.
“They’ve had a great start but it’s a long old season.”
Much travelled defender Purse joined Wednesday in May 2009 on a two-year deal following his release by Cardiff. He captained the Owls and went on to make 71 appearances.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play for some great clubs in Birmingham, West Brom, Cardiff but Wednesday are the biggest out of all the clubs I played for,” he said. “They’ve got so much potential with fan base and size of the stadium.
“The club have been down in the doldrums for too long. They are a great club with massive potential if somebody was to invest in them. I’m surprised they haven’t been taken over.
“It’s a massive club who should be fighting for a place in the Premier League or be in the top flight.”
Cardiff, relegated from the top flight last season, have been without a manager since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stepped down last week.
Scott Young and Danny Gabbidon were placed in caretaker charge and oversaw Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Derby County and Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth.
“Cardiff are massively underachieving,” said Purse. “They should be fighting to get into the Premier League.
“They’ve got a massive budget compared to Wednesday but it just shows you if you haven’t got that harmony in the dressing room, it doesn’t matter what team you put out there.”
Solskjaer lasted less than nine months in the job and Purse blames controversial Cardiff owner Vincent Tan for Cardiff’s lack of stability.
“The manager will always take the fall whether or not people think it is the chairman or board and that was case with Solskjaer,” he said. “But if you keep changing your manager every six months or so, maybe people have got to got to start asking questions of the people who are in charge of the football club.
“When you are not producing results, that doesn’t help and Ole didn’t so lost his job. Football is a harsh world and that’s why we love the game.
“It seems to be the owner’s way or you are out of the door. It is just the way it is. He’s a funny old character.”
Purse, AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ director of football, is predicting a score draw.
“If Cardiff get a manager in before the weekend, it might raise hopes. Wednesday are compact, hard to beat and hit teams on the break and that’s why they have picked up results away from home
“I’m going to sit on the fence and say it’s going to be a 1-1 draw to keep both sets of fans happy!”