Even now, a decade on and with so much pain, suffering, and reckless self-destruction that could so easily have led to far graver consequences for himself and the general public, the sight of Darron Gibson deciding against attending a meet-and-greet session with Manchester United supporters remains one of his minor misdemeanours.
But it was a telling one.
On the face of it, such a trivial act could be viewed as arrogance from a cocksure 21-year-old. Yet there was more to it, his reasoning for such truancy a glimpse into deep-rooted feelings of a lack of self-worth.
Ten years have passed since Gibson sat down for one of his first interviews at United's Carrington training complex, when the above incident took place.
It remains as vivid as ever.
The previous 2009/10 campaign seemed to be his breakthrough as a trusted member of Alex Ferguson's squad and, with the possibility of Euro 2012 on the horizon with the Republic of Ireland, the future held promise.
As it turned out, he didn't manage a minute of action in Poland, leading to a self-imposed exile until manager Giovanni Trapattoni departed. On his first game back in Dublin under caretaker Noel King, Gibson suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury.
He missed 277 days of action during that stint and it was the beginning a series of further problems with his body that have decimated the last seven years of his career. Add in two convictions for drink-driving and you get a sense of the self-destruction.
The judge in the second case described Gibson as having "significant psychological issues" after hearing how the night before he drank from a litre bottle of vodka while taking sleeping pills.
Gibson was sacked by Sunderland for this crime, and his presence at the club was already strained after he was filmed by fans drunkenly ranting about some of his teammates following a 5-0 pre-season defeat to Celtic.
But back to 2009/10, all he had to worry about - on the face of it - was forcing his way into United's starting XI. Gibson made 22 squad appearances in the Premier League - six starts and nine appearances off the bench. He lifted the second League Cup of his burgeoning career when he came on in the final against Aston Villa and, while they crashed out of the Champions League to Bayern Munich on away goals after a thrilling 4-4 quarter-final tie, the Derryman did score a brilliant opener when he started the home leg at Old Trafford.
He remains the last Republic of Ireland international to find the target at that stage of Europe's premier club competition - going one better in the following campaign when he rifled home as United brushed Schalke aside in the semis.
So, why the reason for his absence with the supporters' meet and greet?
Despite a member of United's PR department attempting to usher Gibson through the door to a room full of fans waited, he turned her requests down.
She told him that Ferguson would have to be informed but Gibson's reasoning was blunt.
"They don't want to see me," he insisted. "They want Wazza (Wayne Rooney), Rio (Ferdinand), Giggsy (Ryan Giggs) or Scholesy (Paul Scholes).'
Coming off the back of the season he just had, this felt like more than just knowing his place in the pecking order. Perhaps, as one of Rooney's closest friends at United, he was already used to being overlooked socially.
For a youngster with an already impressive body of work behind him, Gibson, on this occasion at least, wasn't someone who felt he belonged.
"Darron was brilliant for us," former Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook, who signed him after his Sunderland sacking for the 2018/19 campaign, says. "But the thing with Darron is, and I told him this, he doesn't have anything to prove to anyone else.
"He played for some great clubs in his career and people recognise that. They respect him for that. I'm not sure that he does sometimes.
"He loves his football, he loves the game. I never had any problem with Darron. I used to have the players sign in every morning at Wigan and he was never late. He never missed training. He would get frustrated because he couldn't always play, with the injuries he has had you have to look after Darron.
"He would try and play every day if he could. And when I told him I wasn't offering him another deal, and the reasons why, that we wanted more pace and a more dynamic midfield, he accepted it."
A decade on from operating at the summit of English football, Gibson featured for 90 minutes in Salford City's 2-2 draw with Exeter City in their League Two opener on Saturday.
It means he will almost certainly be excused for the trip to face old club Everton in the EFL Cup tonight, with the priority to allow further recovery ahead of an away game with Grimsby Town at the weekend.
"Do you know something, I have to say this, the perception of…" Gary Neville, one of Salford's co-owners begins, trailing off before gathering his thoughts. "99.9 per cent of footballers are decent people. If you go into your own offices there will be all different types of people, different sorts, people have all got their own issues their own stories to tell.
"We're not talking about anything different here in football. Ultimately, we are talking about a perception because we're in a public arena where you do at times get judged and scrutinised differently.
"But I've known Darron Gibson since he was 16, this is a fantastic lad. He loves football, wants to play. Obviously he has had problems with injuries, which has been his major issue, and the perception issues to be honest with you don't exist because I know him as a person.
"That's the same for us in most of our own lives whereby there are people in our own offices, in our families, that we think are fantastic but maybe they have a reputation that exists outside of that."
Neville saw Gibson's desire to stay in the game first-hand when he agreed to link up with Salford's development squad to train under his former United coach Warren Joyce. A no-nonsense, old school operator, Joyce's methods paid dividends.
"Not that it was a favour, but it was a case of come in, train, see how you go," Neville recalls. "But he got to a level in training that was really good so he started training with the first team. Then he got to a level where it was 'hang on, we'll have to give him a contract until the end of the season'."
When it was then announced by the club that Gibson was released early due to the coronavirus shutdown, it appeared another short chapter of his redemption story had an unhappy ending.
That is a source of frustration for Neville, who insists they should have handled it better. "We always wanted to re-sign him. Darron has been through the mill over the last 12 months (and) it's not the end to his career that he was imagining five, six years ago….
"There is no doubt that he's got an opportunity to be able to deliver for us over a season and rebuild the latter part of his career."
Gibson turns 33 in a month so while time is not on his side, there are still people who are.