It is almost an entire year since Schalke last won in the league, while Hoffenheim have sunk to 13th in the table after three defeats in their last four games.
Having sacked Manuel Baum and replaced him with Christian Gross over the winter break, the Schalke board and fanbase would have been hoping for a significantly better performance than the one their players delivered in Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin.
Only goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann prevented the margin of defeat from potentially being worse, with the experienced stopper superbly denying Dodi Lukebakio after fine work by Matheus Cunha in the early exchanges. However, Mark Uth returning from injury is a major boost for Schalke, with the forward extremely unlucky not to put the visitors ahead after being played through on goal. Alexander Schwolow's fingertip save to deny the one-time Germany international was pulled from right out of the top drawer.
That chance was undoubtedly the closest Gross's side came to scoring, though, with Matteo Guendouzi's curling finish inside the far post breaking the deadlock before half time. Jhon Cordoba marked his own comeback from injury with a clinical finish from close range after Vladimir Darida's clever cutback, before the Slovakian played a lovely one-two with Krzysztof Piatek, who fired past Fahrmann to seal the victory for his side.
Schalke's winless league run now stands at an astonishing 30 matches, with their last victory coming on 17 January last year against Borussia Monchengladbach. Should Gross's side fail to beat Hoffenheim on Saturday, it is guaranteed to be at least a full calendar year between their last win and their next one, with their next fixture afterwards coming away at Eintracht Frankfurt on 17 January this year.
Things are far from as disastrous at Hoffenheim, who reached the knockout stages of European competition for the first time in the club's history after topping their Europa League group earlier this season - but having finished sixth last season, there is no doubt that the domestic campaign has been a disappointment thus far.
Indeed, Sebastian Hoeness's side have lost half of their 14 league matches, and in terms of points on the board currently sit as close to the relegation zone as they do the top half.
Saturday's 3-1 home defeat to Freiburg was arguably Hoffenheim's most lacklustre performance of the season so far, with the visitors racing into a 3-0 lead inside the first half. Baptiste Santamaria smashed Freiburg into the lead with his first goal for the club after fine work by Christian Gunter down the left flank, before Vincenzo Grifo's penalty and Kasim Adams's own goal left the hosts with a mountain to climb.
Hoeness will have been mildly encouraged by the spirit shown in adversity by his side in the second half, with Ihlas Bebou pulling a goal back with a fine finish and the team's overall performance lifting a notch, but the game was all but dead at that point. The 38-year-old will be imploring his side to start faster in order to ensure that they do not give any early encouragement to a Schalke side which is seriously deficient in that department at present.
Schalke 04 Bundesliga form: LLDLLL
Schalke 04 form (all competitions): LDLLWL
Hoffenheim Bundesliga form: DWLLWL
Hoffenheim form (all competitions): WLLWLL
Schalke have confirmed the loan signing of Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac, who enjoyed a five year spell at the German club between 2012 and 2017, but the visit of Hoffenheim could come too soon for the left-back to start.
Steven Skrzybski, Kilian Ludewig, Goncalo Pacienca, Benito Raman, Rabbi Matondo, Nassim Boujellab and Salif Sane are all ruled out due to injury, while Nabil Bentaleb's exclusion from the squad due to disciplinary problems appears to be ongoing despite the recent change in management.
Hoffenheim, meanwhile, suffered the blow of Sebastian Rudy tearing his collateral ligament in the defeat to Freiburg, with the utility man likely to miss the rest of the season as a result.
Ermin Bicakcic, Florian Grillitsch, Kostas Stafylidis, Benjamin Hubner, Havard Nordtveit, Dennis Geiger and Kevin Akpoguma are also all ruled out of the trip to Schalke in what represents a serious injury crisis for Hoeness to deal with.
Schalke 04 possible starting lineup:
Fahrmann; Stambouli, Kabak, Nastasic, Oczipka; Mascarell, Serdar; Schopf, Uth, Harit; Hoppe
Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Posch, Adams, Vogt, Sessegnon; Samassekou, Gacinovic, Baumgartner; Bebou, Belfodil, Kramaric
We say: Schalke 04 1-2 Hoffenheim
With both sides missing several first-team players through injury, neither team is likely to be at their best, but Hoffenheim should still be able to field an XI more than capable of beating Schalke.
Gross's side looked woefully inept in the defeat at Hertha at the weekend, with Hoffenheim unlikely to play as badly as they did in the first half against Freiburg again all season.