For months, Sir Alex Ferguson has stated and reiterated his desire to be within touching distance of the Premier League summit as 2009 passes into 2010.
Victory over Wigan on Wednesday evening would grant the United manager's wish; putting the champions within two points of league leaders Chelsea, and laying the foundations to mount a bid for a fourth successive title in the second half of the campaign.
"I'm definitely quite happy considering all the defenders I've had out injured," was Sir Alex's assessment of United's position. "It was a key period for us to try and get through that, and if we win tomorrow then hopefully we've gotten through it.
"Some of our performances have been very good, but the important thing now is that as we get our players back and hopefully they stay back, we can find the consistency we usually do during the second half of the season. That will be key for us."
The Latics arrive at Old Trafford with a wretched record against United - played nine, lost nine in the Premier League - but Sir Alex is wary of the visitors' propensity to shock the big boys, as they have already shown this season.
"I know we’ve a good record against Wigan, but you have to respect the victories they’ve had against Chelsea and Aston Villa this season," he said. "They play football; that’s the way Roberto Martinez wants his team to play. He’s got a good philosophy about it so it should be an entertaining match."