Ugly scenes that followed van Persie’s winner almost soured the result after Rio Ferdinand was struck above the eye by an object thrown from the crowd, although to City's credit, the host club has already offered "sincere apologies” and the matter will be dealt with.
On the pitch, United ripped City’s air of invincibility apart with a display of ruthless counter-attacking play, complimented by admirable levels of conviction and intent in the final third, sucker-punching the Blues on the break at every possible opportunity.
What was also noticeable at Eastlands was the ferocity and intensity with which the Reds played, fighting for every challenge and contesting every decision, whilst maintaining tactical discipline. It was reminiscent of former bouts with old contenders Arsenal.
At times, the temperature was close to boiling point and a catalyst for chaos never seemed far away, which made for fantastic viewing. Most notably, the sight of a rattled Sir Alex, aged 70, confronting Carlos Tevez after a challenge on Phil Jones was a joy.
Today, the Manchester derby is more a grand occasion of state than a football match, an event of national standing. It has its own space in the calendar, its own lexicon and a particularly tight stranglehold on the news agenda. Victory gives more than just three points.
The fixture even draws a reputable crowd with A-List Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and a seemingly bemused Robert Duvall (“Will there be a shoot-out today if there’s a tie? No?”) watching events unfold from the stands, or more specifically, a luxurious celebrity box.
But while a six-point lead over the champions is encouraging, Sunday's win does little to shape the title race because championships