Patrick Vieira checked in for Premier League duty once more and immediately set his sights on taking Manchester City to the number one slot.
Vieira is set to earn an estimated £10million if he spends the next 18 months with City, after quitting Inter Milan to rejoin old boss Roberto Mancini.
He also made no secret of the fact having a chance to force his way into Raymond Domenech's French World Cup squad next summer was a major factor in his decision.
But a man who won the title three times with Arsenal and finished top of Serie A four seasons on the trot after leaving England in 2005 is unlikely to be content settling for second best. So, while Mancini was able to discuss City's stated aim of securing a top four berth this term, Vieira was looking higher, much higher.
“Manchester City can achieve so much,” he said. “When you look at the players we have already and where we are in the table, (winning) the league is not out of reach. I believe we can do it. In fact, I am sure we can.”
While Vieira accepts he can no longer tear around the field trampling over opponents, equally he is hardly a geriatric.
“I never had any doubt that I could do a big job here,” he said.
“I believe in myself. I know that I am not 20. But I am not 45 either. I am very motivated to do well and believe I can be successful.”
Indeed, while Mancini will shy away from handing Vieira the captain's armband he wore with such distinction at Arsenal, he is not ready to make his first signing as City boss a peripheral figure.
It might be bad news for Nigel de Jong, Vincent Kompany and Gareth Barry, who have tended to occupy the central midfield roles for the Blues this term, and a debut against Blackburn on Monday may be in doubt due to a calf injury sustained in his final game for Inter against Chievo on Wednesday, but it seems Vieira is going to play regularly.
“We needed a player like him,” said Mancini.
“I know him very well. He knows me and how I work. That will help me. We needed a tall player like him in midfield. He can also score goals with his head.
“Patrick had the experience of winning a lot of trophies with Arsenal, Juventus and Inter. Now he must continue that at City.”
Ironically, if City's match with Blackburn fell victim to the weather next week, it would mean Vieira could face United in his second game when the teams square up to each other in the delayed first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final on January 19.
“It will be exciting to play against Manchester United,” Vieira smiled.
More importantly, it is a semi-final and the chance to win a medal, in Mancini's book, and without doubt Vieira's as well, a far more significant factor.
Meanwhile, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has revealed he was given the chance to bid for Vieira during the current transfer window but turned down the offer as he was happy with his midfield options.
“I was interested in the summer, very interested and he was keen to come to Tottenham at the time,” Redknapp said.
“He showed a lot of bottle to want to play at Tottenham after being such a legend at Arsenal. That shows his character to want to take that challenge on.
“But it didn't happen because he got back into the squad at Inter Milan and it drifted.
“This time when he was available I did get some phone calls about the possibility again but we felt we'd moved on a bit from then and we were happy with what we had at the club.”