McLeish was present eight years ago for the first derby after Blues` return to the top flight and remembers the passion of the home fans in a 3-0 triumph over Villa.
The former Scotland boss is not advocating any over-the-top support which spills over into unpleasantness or violence but is aware the fans have a key role to play.
McLeish said: "We are looking at the fans to be at their best, what we've seen with the history of Blues fans, not only in this game but in general.
"The reputation they've gained over the years is being hostile, volatile but not in a nasty way. We are looking to our fans to give the players the energy to help them to victory. But I think the bitterness in derbies is what no-one likes to see."
McLeish added: "I've met Birmingham and Villa fans that co-habit, husband and wife, different parts of families, and the banter in these households must be great. I am sure it is not bitter so why can't they exist together in friendly terms - but with the same rivalry that is important in any derby in the world?"