The final moments of last season feature heavily in the TV trailer for tonight’s Manchester derby.
As Sergio Aguero boots the title-winning goal, Martin Tyler exclaims: “I swear you’ll never see anything like this again!”
The problem with most Sky trailers is that they make patently untrue statements (“Only the Premier League provides this sort of excitement!”).
The problem with this one? Tyler is absolutely right.
A season climaxes like that every 20 years, at best. And with Kim Jong-Un hoarding long-range nuclear missiles like Carlos Tevez collects driving convictions, Early Doors can be fairly certain none of us are going to see 2032.
Leaving armageddon to one side for a moment, the truly stark point is this: not even Sky can be bothered pretending this season is going to end anything like the last one.
And why would they? United lead City by 15 points with eight games left. Lose tonight - at home, where they have won 14 of 15 in the league - and they’ll still take a 12-point cushion into games against Stoke, West Ham and Aston Villa.
Even if United did collapse, they finish against Swansea and West Brom - the sort of mid-table nothing-to-play-for cannon fodder everyone dreams of facing in their final games.
Win and they’re champions. Lose and they’re still champions.
This game has none of the pull of last spring’s ultimately decisive derby, won 1-0 by City.
There are lots of reasons to think it doesn’t matter, and for the neutral it probably doesn’t.
But to the two sets of fans it matters enormously. Particularly United.
Why? Two reasons.
First, it will determine this side’s legacy as it is United’s last chance to convince people of this team’s quality.
There still exists a vague consensus that United have won the title by default. They lead because their rivals have imploded, one by one.
United are merely a side who concede the first goal then find a way to claw themselves back. They have an unbalanced squad, no midfield and rely on their strikers.
Winning repeatedly from losing positions is seen as both lucky and the sign of a flaky side, when in fact the exact opposite is true.
But still - to concede more than a goal a game (31 from 30) shows this isn’t a great United team, doesn’t it?
Well, United’s great team of 1998/99 won 79 points (plus the FA Cup and Champions League). This season they already have 77 with eight games left.
They’ve got a good chance of beating the all-time top flight record of 95, and could still get 100.
If their rivals were better - if they had to contend with a Mourinho-era Chelsea or an Arsenal side from Wenger’s glory days - they might conceivably be five points clear instead of 15. But they’d still be top.
This is their last chance of popular acclaim. The Champions League and FA Cup have gone, meaning no double.
The only way this team get the credit they deserve is by putting the biggest possible exclamation mark on their title success by pounding City tonight.
Second, it’s easy to overlook just how much hostility exists in Manchester.
Early Doors attended United’s game at Fulham in February and found itself surrounded by Mancunians on tour in Craven Cottage’s quaintly-titled ‘neutral’ stand.
The away fans sang noisily and relentlessly. Not about United, and certainly not about Fulham. This was 90 minutes of the anti-City songbook.
'Mancini are you listening? You'd better keep our trophy glistening. We'll be back next May, to take it away. Walking in a Fergie wonderland.'
'Keep singing 6-1, keep singing 6-1, six games in Europe, you couldn't win one.'
'We took the Kop and Chelsea too,
But what we like most is kicking a blue,
Kicking a blue,
Kicking a blue,
What we like most is kicking a blue.'
As the 376th rendition of ‘Kicking a blue’ floated out of Craven Cottage and across the Thames, a thought occurred to Early Doors: these people don’t like Manchester City very much.
Then another: losing the title to City really bothered them.
We don’t associate Manchester United fans with angst, vulnerability, introspection. But clearly City’s rise had rattled them in a big way. Win tonight, and - as a rival chant goes, the city is theirs.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: What workmanlike but predictable Sunderland need is not more flair, but more fitness, says Paolo Di Canio: "I know exactly what they can give me in terms of energy. It is a short time but we are capable of building their strength, resistance and most importantly their attention, because the goals came from mistakes. It is not the fittest team in the world but we are going to work and give them more energy in the next few days and weeks."
FOREIGN VIEW: Mario Balotelli was caught smoking in the toilet on the train during the team's journey to Florence and will be fined, AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani has said.
Balotelli was ticked off by the train guard who told Galliani: "You need to pull his ears. He was smoking in the bathroom," Gazzetta dello Sport reported.
Smoking is banned on Italian trains.
"I want to say that we're going to fine him," Galliani told the newspaper.