As the final whistle blew on their campaign at the Stadium of Light last season, United were technically champions.
Seconds later, to the glee of the Sunderland fans who had stayed to see the drama unfold, Sergio Aguero scored the goal that changed the course of history.
At the time, such was the nature of that shattering experience, it was wondered whether United would recover.
With Ferguson in charge, it probably should never have been questioned.
"These things are hard to take," said Ferguson.
"For about 20 seconds we thought we had won it and it was snatched away from us.
"But what we have done well this season is dusted ourselves down and made a real good challenge of the league.
"The concentration levels, the commitment of the players and the team spirit have been fantastic. In that respect we have answered the only way we can."