DRAYTON VALLEY -- A two-horse race?
The field for the Alberta curling championship includes the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the world.
The rivalry between curling's two titans has mellowed over the years but the stakes for their place in history are running high this week.
Was Kevin Martin deserving when he snapped Randy Ferbey's five-year Alberta win streak in 2006?
Can Ferbey work his way back to the winner's circle and win his sixth title in seven years?
"I don't think you can take away the boycott,'' said world No. 1 Martin.
"There's two or three wins in there that aren't as real as the others.
"As far as being a good team, they're a good team. They've won Briers and they've won the world and Slams. Those are real and that's strong. You can't take that away."
There's not much to choose from between the top two contenders.
Martin holds a 3-2 edge on Ferbey this season, his latest win coming at the Canadian Open final in Winnipeg late last month.
"There's three big events (for Olympics qualification) and the only way you can get to Brier is to win this weekend," said Martin.
The best two teams in the world avoided a confrontation in 2006 when Ferbey lost the semi to Mark Johnson.
"No. 1 seed, No. 10 seed, it doesn't matter in this event,'' said Ferbey, who's not the defending champ for the first time since 2002.
"I'm worried about winning one in a row, never mind six out of the last seven.
"It just doesn't matter. That's for the rocking chair ... in about three or four years' time for me."
Did we mention Johnson has the No. 8-ranked foursome in the world, yet is only the fourth seed here because Kevin Koe is ranked No. 6?
In this event, Ferbey was made top seed over Martin in a pre-event player's poll.
But, if you get the scoop straight from the horses' mouths, they're talking a different game.
"Everybody is calling it a two-horse race, but that's so wrong," said horse No. 1 Martin.
"We've got six teams, or maybe even seven that could win this thing.
"One thing for sure, this will be Canada's best provincial."
At least that's one issue they can agree on.
"I've said that right from the git-go,'' said Ferbey. "There's five teams here who have played on the Tour and done quite well.
"Would it be shocking if somebody else won? Absolutely not.
"Everybody seems to be talking Martin-Ferbey but those other teams are very, very close. It wouldn't surprise me if you saw only one of us or neither of us in the final."
These guys sound serious.