Sunday’s victory at Manchester City resonated beyond the short-term implications of three points, local authority and the hunt for the Barclays Premier League title.
Glory comes and goes, but guts have defined a club which has battled back from the brink more than once in its history, be it in the grander scheme of Munich or within the bread-and-butter battle for prizes.
When Manchester United lose, going down swinging is a prerequisite. That's why last April's defeat at the Etihad Stadium has rankled so many for so long.
Back then, armed with a three-point lead at the head of the table, United’s caution mirrored that of a side going into a huge Champions League tie with a slender first-leg advantage, and a gameplan of suffocation and counter-strikes was undone by a solitary set-piece.
The events of 13 May might have haunted all of a Red persuasion ever since, Sergio Aguero ever-liable to flit unwelcomed into one's cognition, but the lacklustre derby defeat which put City on course for the title not only ceded top spot, it let down the affluence of United's history.
As recently as last Friday's press conference, in the more open, trusting huddle of the Sunday newspaper reporters, Sir Alex Ferguson admitted lingering regrets that he had omitted Danny Welbeck from his starting line-up back in April, opting instead for the big-game pedigree of Ji-sung Park.
The Longsight striker was again confined to the substitutes' bench on Sunday, but this time his late introduction embodied the daring that has been a hallmark of Sir Alex's time at Old Trafford.
Pegged back to 2-2 and reeling against a Manchester City team with a growing reputation for late comebacks, United arrived at a fork in the road where all the signs pointed towards pragmatism.