But having safely negotiated the qualifying round, United were set a stern test when they were drawn together with Bayern and then Spanish champions Barcelona, as well as Brondby of Denmark, in a tough-looking Group D.
Four years earlier, after the Catalan giants had been pegged back to a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, a side featuring Hristo Stoichkov, Romario and future United player Jordi Cruyff dismantled the Reds with a ruthless 4-0 win in the Nou Camp.
However, United showed how far they had come by going toe-to-toe with Barcelona on this day (16 September) in 1998 as both sides served up a thrilling, end-to-end encounter.
A 3-0 win over a Barcelona side that included Diego Maradona, in the 1984 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final, had gone into the annals of United history and this meeting was equally memorable.
Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes gave United a first-half lead, but a Barça side boasting such talents as Luis Figo and Rivaldo hit back, with a 3-3 draw being a fair result.
The two sides traded blows again in the return match in the Nou Camp, another enthralling encounter that ended 3-3. United were not done yet with Barcelona’s famous stadium that season, winning back the crown as European champions with an astonishing injury-time win there in May 1999.