Sir Alex Ferguson has signalled, not unreasonably, that after a summer of spending which may top £130 million, his club's city rivals must finish the season in the top four.
"You have to put City bang in the picture," he said. "They have got to be in the top four next year; they have to be. When Chelsea made their signings the impact they had was to win the League. When [Roman] Abram-ovich came they won the League, and for City to spend that kind of money they have to be in the top four."
That's a story for another day – the two meet at Eastlands on 10 November – and however quickly City feel they can barge their way through and further alter the old four-team hegemony which Ferguson believes has been "squashed", it is the original big spenders, title-holders and FA Cup holders Chelsea, and the tussle with Carlo Ancelotti which absorbs him most.
"He is not such an emotional guy like a lot of Italians," Ferguson observed of Ancelotti after a first season of combat. "He doesn't get upset about the odd result against them. He is very calm."