CHICAGO -- In the beginning, the series thrived on its newness.
And when that wore off, there was "The Fight" at home plate and "Ozzie's Rats," one World Series drought sated and the back-to-back battles of first-place teams.
But what about now, as the Cubs-White Sox City Series starts its 13th season?
Exactly what do we have that's special?
How fitting for two dull teams seemingly going nowhere that they will play for a new trophy sponsored by an oil company in crisis control, at Wrigley Field with a sign advertising a car company with public relations problems and on a day when another Chicago team is parading around its championship trophy.
So what do we have?
Well, we have Cubs versus Sox and a city still divided as North versus South, at least according to the Cubs and Sox themselves.
So while the luster seems to have worn off, there still will be that buzz at Wrigley Field this week and U.S. Cellular Field two weeks hence.
"The only luster that has fallen off is the way the teams are playing," said Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, who has seen all the City Series since 2000 and will start Saturday's game. "There's not very much excitement (leading up), but once we get there, the atmosphere will be there.
"The buildup, the media coverage before, may not be as big because teams aren't playing the best, but there's a lot of emotion and you want to show for your fans. It's still a big deal for the city."
Maybe, but it would seem baseball interest in the city this year could be relegated to the time between the end of the Blackhawks season and the beginning of Bears training camp.
Those involved see it a different way.
"You're always going to have interest," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's never going to change. Even when we played them in exhibition games, it was a big game. It's going to be the same craziness."
When the teams play each other in spring training, the games have been low-key to the point of creating yawns. But someone who should be considered an expert says that's not the point.
Bob Howry, who played for the Sox from 1998 to 2001 and is in his second tour of duty with the Cubs, said "even when the teams aren't playing well, you still have the fan rivalry going."
"I've been in other places where the stadium is full, but you don't hear that buzz," he said. "In this series, it's going from two hours before the first pitch until well after the game is over."
He's right. Feelings for the teams are deep-rooted and passionate. The only excuse fans need to display their colors is a game.
"These games are always fun," Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster said. "Maybe the media and fans make a bigger deal out of it than it is, but the games are exciting and usually entertaining. Sometimes it brings out the best baseball.
"Maybe that's what we need for a kick in the ass to start playing good baseball."
It should be fun just to see the ballparks filled to capacity, a rare occurrence during these economic times.
"It's still great," said Sox captain Paul Konerko, who has played in the series since 1999. "Over the last five or six years, the teams have been competitive. (The Cubs) have gone to the playoffs, and we won the World Series.
"They still are the most exciting games you'll play all year that aren't the playoffs."