The Sky Blues were pushing for promotion until a recent drop off in form, while Derby have moved to within 11 points of safety courtesy of a four-game unbeaten streak.
If Wayne Rooney had his choice, Derby would be continuing with Championship action this weekend after generating some much-needed momentum over recent games.
Nevertheless, given the club's financial situation, there is an argument that his squad will be equally motivated to try to put together a cup run to complement their efforts in the Championship.
Derby's situation still looks bleak - they remain without an owner and are 11 points away from safety in the second tier - but the manner in which they have accumulated 10 points from a possible 12 makes them tough opponents for any team below the Premier League.
They had been on course to suffer a potentially-pivotal 2-0 defeat to Reading on Monday until they dramatically salvaged the situation, netting in the 86th and 91st-minute respectively.
Colin Kazim-Richards scored for the third match in succession, his only three efforts in the league all season, and he will be confident of extending that run at the weekend if selected.
Derby claimed a late point when these two clubs met at the Ricoh Arena in October, with Coventry not being the same side since they started to struggle for wins during that month.
Just two triumphs have come from their last 12 games, and Mark Robins's team head into Saturday's encounter having failed to post maximum points since November 6.
Postponements have not helped matters over the Christmas and New Year period, but the Sky Blues are only outsiders for the playoffs now that they sit six points adrift of the top six.
These two clubs have not squared off in the FA Cup since 1998, Coventry emerging victorious by a 2-0 scoreline on that occasion when both teams were in the Premier League.
With Coventry playing just one match since December 11, Robins will not feel inclined to make widespread changes to his starting lineup.
In sharp contrast, Derby played a full schedule over Christmas and New Year, potentially leading to Rooney making several changes to his team.
Coventry City possible starting lineup:
Wilson; Hyam, McFadzean, Rose; Kane, Allen, Sheaf, Maatsen; O'Hare; Godden, Gyokeres
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Roos; Ebosele, Jagielka, Stearman, Forsyth; Jozwiak, Bird, Thompson, Knight; Morrison; Plange
We say: Coventry City 1-2 Derby County
Despite their attentions being elsewhere, both teams will want to make progress in this competition. With no replays during the third round, there will be a desire to get things done in 90 minutes, but we are backing the visitors to prevail after extra time.
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