The Spanish midfielder joined the Blues in the summer of 2010 and at the end of his first season, Manchester United were champions, nine points ahead of third-placed City.
But things have changed dramatically in the intervening period.
Last season, as City set a new Premier League record of 100 points, United trailed by 19 points.
And Silva believes the famous 6-1 win at Old Trafford in 2011 en route to our first title in 44 years was the pivotal moment.
“United commanded a lot of respect when I arrived,” he said. “But I think it changed from when we won at Old Trafford 6-1 and the mentality changed a little bit that day.
“Now I think we are held in great esteem.”
Silva was outstanding in the win, scoring the fifth and then producing a magical half-volley pass to set up Edin Dzeko for the sixth.
It was a result that shocked the football world and gave the City squad title-winning belief.
He says it's a game that will be remembered for years.
“You remember a bit about every derby you’ve played in,” he said, speaking in his role as an ambassador for the Anfi Group.
“But that one, the result, and the fact that it was at United, the respect that United commanded in that period in time, makes it one that will forever go down in history.”
City go into this weekend’s derby in fine form, having scored six goals in consecutive matches.
The 6-1 win over Southampton on Sunday was followed up by a 6-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
It’s now 10 wins in 11 matches across all competitions and asked if teams now fear City given the quality in the squad, he said: “I don’t think it’s fear. I think it's respect.
"Respect because we're doing things well.”
Anfi Group and their ambassador David Silva invited the people of Manchester to take part in a competition to show up in the Etihad in their most creative beach outfit to win a week's holiday at the resort in Gran Canaria. For special offers and latest news visit Anfi.com.