Alex Ferguson’s decision to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement may have wreaked desperation at the time but hands must be held up now to salute an absolute masterstroke from the Red Devils boss.
The 37-year-old’s addition has been crucial towards United’s Premier League recovery and subsequent extension over rivals City by a whopping eight points.
Betting suggested it was City’s title to lose just a few weeks ago and that has indeed been the case as Roberto Mancini’s set up has fallen to the ground.
United were already long odds-on to defend their crown after beating QPR 2-0 at Old Trafford but the blue half of Manchester still had a glimmer of hope heading into their match against Arsenal at the Emirates.
But ill-discipline and a wonder-strike from Mikel Arteta sealed City’s fate for the season and the forthcoming, highly anticipated derby clash at the Etihad is now more or less immaterial in terms of its influence on the Premier League overall.
Mancini verbally transfer listed the dismissed Mario Balotelli immediately after proceedings in North London and the unrest within City’s camp is plain and clear for all to see.
Most vitally perhaps, in regards to where the title has been won and lost, is the contrast between Ferguson and Mancini and how both men have handled certain issues with the media.
After exiting the Champions League, Ferguson removed all pressure from his squad and kept reasonably tight lipped in the face of the public.
Mancini, on the other hand, has been far from quiet and relaxed, continuously talking up his team and readily discussing important and influential subjects with the people behind the microphones and cameras.
And so it is, the race for Champions League qualification takes over between now and the end of the campaign, with the betting completely wide open for a top four slot.
Newcastle and Chelsea still trail Arsenal and Spurs, but both the Magpies and the Blues will be delighted to have closed the gap over the weekend courtesy of wins against Swansea and Wigan respectively.
The Geordies could well be the team to spoil the party – especially if Chelsea manage to prolong their run in Europe this season.
But with Barcelona up next for Roberto Di Matteo’s side, a place in the Munich final surely looks more of a pipe dream than a realistic possibility.
Down at the bottom, Bolton and Blackburn were both stuffed 3-0 meaning no progress was made by any of the teams looking to close in on Aston Villa who sit precariously in 15th.
The Villains turned in a spirited performance against Liverpool at Anfield, but Luis Suarez struck late in the day to claim a draw and leave Alex McLeish’s men still very much in the thick of things.
Liverpool are engaged in the F.A Cup semi-finals next weekend – and half of Merseyside will be invading Wembley for the Reds eagerly awaited tie against Everton, with the winner going on to face either Spurs or Chelsea in the final.