The vertical conformance of a steam drive process is improved by conducting the steam flood process in two stages. In the first stage, steam is injected into the lower portion of the formation via an injection well and oil is recovered from the upper portion of the formation via a spaced apart production well. Once there is a breakthrough of steam at the production well, injection of steam and production are terminated. In the second stage, the roles of the injection well and production well are reversed. A thermal recovery fluid comprising steam or hot water is injected into the lower portion of the formation via the production well and oil is recovered from the lower portion of the formation via the injection well until the oil recovered contains an unfavorable amount of steam or water.