Whatever happens at Eastlands on Saturday, it seems unlikely that Patrice Evra will be watching. Or, at the very least, it seems unlikely he'll be too bothered about it. That, apparently, is the lesson he's learnt from last season's run-in.
"This year we are focusing more on ourselves whereas last year we were more worried about Manchester City," the United left-back revealed this week. "There was too much focus on what they were going to do in their next game."
This weekend, that next game for City is at home against Fulham. Should they win, as is widely expected, they will cut the gap to four points ahead of United's difficult trip to Tottenham Hotspur. It's a situation that's delightfully and delicately poised.
On the one hand, a slip-up from Ferguson's side, provided City beat Fulham, would give Roberto Mancini a significant boost in terms of both their position and table and confidence. His team will be able to tell themselves they affected United again, even if, on this occasion, it may well be down to the quality of Spurs as opposed to the concentration of Evra and his teammates.
On the other hand, if United manage to maintain their seven-point lead or even extend it, it will be hard for City not to feel a certain sense of futility: of the kind that puts sports psychologists in jobs, particularly given the contrasting fixtures and perceived potential for a swing.
Whatever happens, with the prospect of those kind of ripples, it feels like the kind of weekend when the title race truly starts to ramp up. Indeed, when you actually properly consider such intriguing psychology as well as the compelling relentlessness, a league run-in is a fairly unique competition. Since most other sports involve isolated contests, knock-outs or even play-offs to finally decide round-robins, nothing truly compares to its long-term push-and-pull.
The only event that has come close in recent times was the last day of the 2012 Ryder Cup, when Europe couldn't afford to drop a single hole as they sought to keep pace with the USA. If involving different dimensions, it wasn't completely unlike the drama, and comeback, that eventually saw City take the title so spectacular last May.
Of course, as Evra indicated, the exact nature of the 2011-12 title race may yet heavily influence this one. To a certain degree, it was actually quite odd to hear a man who has already won four English titles talking about needing to learn lessons to claim it again. Given that the City group had never previously won a league together, and that the club as a whole had the shadow of 44 barren years hovering over them, the expectation would have been for their lack of experience to cost them at the first time of asking.
Instead, it was United who buckled. Quite badly. In fact, they were the first ever team in English history to blow an eight-point lead with just six games left. It's a stat that should put a different context on all the current talk about United accumulating one of the highest ever points totals at this stage, and of no team ever failing to win the league in such circumstances.
It also gives rise to what is perhaps the most relevant question of all: who will be most affected by last season?
City, after all, now have the nous. And, similarly, they won't necessarily get so unnerved by a few bad results in the manner they did last March, knowing that an element of composure and patience can see it quickly change back in their favour.
As David Silva said this week: "We hope they blow it. All we can do, whatever the gap is, is keep going every game and put them under the pressure of knowing that, if they lose a game or drop any points, we will get closer to them."
In United's case, then, there is the uncomfortable fact that a team that previously used to rack up titles in ruthless fashion squandered such a position. Given that, can we really have the same faith on this team? It remains to be seen whether it will give them drive or doubt.
For their part, Danny Welbeck did reveal on the eve of this campaign that Ferguson had already tried to turn the ultimate low into a long-term positive. We were travelling home from Sunderland on the coach and he went round all the young players and said to them: "Never forget this: because this will win you titles. This will make some of you into men and be the best you can be."
Such statements illustrate that, despite the experience of the likes of Evra, United did have a very young team. Now, they're a year older and more composed. What's more, they also have a dimension they lacked last season: Robin van Persie.
Because, ultimately, the grander shifts in momentum are still built upon notionally smaller details: the Dutch forward's goals; the loss of Yaya Toure; United's defence; whether it's better to be out of the Champions League because it gives you breathing space or in it because it heightens your focus.
Then, of course, there are the most important building blocks of all: winning your individual games regardless of everything else going on.
Both teams, it seems, have learned the hard way. Whether they can act on that knowledge will be the most compelling narrative of all.