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(CNN) —  

Democratic presidential candidates will descend on Miami this week for the first pair of debates with many hoping to do what only few so far have achieved: score a breakout moment.

Candidates’ schedules have been lighter than normal of late, with many dedicating weeks to prepare for the debate stage. That preparation has ranged from mock debates featuring aides and advisers playing other competitors to spending more time reading up on policy differences.

The debates, which will be held over two nights on Wednesday and Thursday, are the best opportunity many of these candidates will have to stand out from the crowded field and pick up some semblance of momentum headed into the summer and next round of debates in July, which will be hosted by CNN. After that, the Democratic National Committee will raise the threshold to qualify for the debates, making it even harder for candidates to make the cut.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has spent time studying his own record, preparing for it to be a point of attack. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN he has been working to find where “we are going to be contrasting our views with other people” on stage. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has spent time watching Republican debates in 2016 to better understand how to stand out on a large stage. And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has worked to boil down her policy proposals in order to keep it short to comply with time constraints.

The lower-polling candidates are also preparing to introduce themselves to the country, in some cases by highlighting how they contrast with their Democratic opponents. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been preparing since May, has done three mock debates with two aides by her side playing different opponents and is ready to draw contrasts on the stage, an adviser said. And former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been asking campaign supporters to volunteer to play his opponents in mock debates.

While acrimony has been steadily rising inside the Democratic field, many operatives from a range of campaigns said they expect the first debate to be far from contentious.

Advisers to several campaigns said they are advising against directly confronting fellow candidates on stage in Miami. It is expected to be the largest audience yet – a prime opportunity for the contenders to introduce themselves – and they don’t want voters to remember attacks on fellow Democrats.

“If you attack someone, you end up helping the third person, not yourself,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a veteran of presidential campaigns who advised Hillary Clinton in 2016 and John Edwards in 2008, and who is currently supporting Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who did not qualify for the debate.

Despite being split up by random draw, the first night’s contest – which includes Warren, Klobuchar and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker – is devoid of any top five candidates other than the Warren. That has made the second night – which includes Biden, Sanders, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Sen. Kamala Harris, all of whom are in the top five in polling – the perceived main stage debate, meaning it could get more attention.

However, most operatives are skeptical that either night will significantly shake up the race.

“At the end of the day, you got 10 people each night in a two-hour block. Until the race sort of narrows down, you’re not really going to have, I think, a lot of substantive back-and-forth between the candidates. Just because there’s not enough time to do it,” said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders who managed his 2016 campaign.

Intense preparation

But that doesn’t mean that the candidates haven’t spent weeks preparing, with some candidates devoting considerable time familiarizing themselves with the time constraints – each candidate will be given one-minute talking time and 30 seconds when responding to an attack. Others are preparing for how their body language could be perceived on camera.

For most candidates, that means their summer TV list has included watching old debates.

Biden has the most under his belt, notably his 2008 vice presidential match-up with then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and in 2012 with then-Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. He had a strong showing in both performances, even surprising some Obama campaign aides at the time.

For his part, Biden has been viewing some of Sanders’ exchanges with Clinton in 2016, aides said, trying to acquaint himself with Sanders’ style. He’s far less familiar with the mannerisms and approach of several others, including Buttigieg, who will be standing to the former vice president’s immediate left.

For weeks, Buttigieg has been making a generational argument about his candidacy – an unspoken knock on Biden, who is twice his age. Biden has been known to deliver one-liners to great effect. One supporter of Biden suggested that he could employ a version of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 classic comeback to former Vice President Walter Mondale.

“I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” Reagan said when asked if he was too old to be president at 73. (Biden is three years older and an aide declined to comment whether he would use such a line.)

Buttigieg told an audience in South Carolina over the weekend that he “can’t wait” to get to the debate, adding that he was practicing for the contest. But Buttigieg said that it was “too complicated” to have aides fill in for each of the candidates he will face.

“It’s going to be great. We can’t wait. Starting to practice, get ready,” Buttigieg said Saturday. “What you’re going to see is we all share pretty common and similar values in the Democratic Party.”

The line nods to something many advisers told CNN: Expect to hear promises to come together after the primary over and over again.