My predictions for tonight's debate, assuming Hillary doesn't call in sick:
The post-debate chatter will be full of awe at Hillary's statesmanlike performance, regardless of said performance. Listen for comparisons to Margaret Thatcher or other successful women.
Trump will go soft on most topics. I suspect this will a) disarm Hillary, who has no platform to speak of and will be loaded for bear, and b) because many viewers will be seeing Trump for the first time.
Hillary's only strategy is to run out the clock. If she is still standing at the end, in her mind and the minds of her supporters, she will have done perfectly. If she stutters and stammers the entire time, we'll be told in the post-debate spin what she had meant to say.
Trump will get one good zinger in that will take the air out of the room and will demonstrate just how far Hillary is from his level of intelligence and capabilities.
The old media has two priorities tonight:
Put Hillary in the best light possible, and
Create the illusion of a horse-race to boost views and advertising.
While Hillary has lost a ton of sleep over tonight's debate, it isn't all a negative for her. Tonight is the ultimate event for the Democrat Party. The first presidential debate always is. Why?
Because the Democrat finally gets to share the stage, and thus the perceived credibility, with someone with actual life accomplishments. In a sane world, we'd never see a lying, conniving, classless and corrupt person share anything with someone her opposite.
Regardless of her performance, tonight is a major milestone for Hillary.