It was billed as the match of the season, probably even an era-defining one. Roberto Mancini's Manchester City have had a startlingly up-and-down season until now - from the giddy joys of running away with the league title in the first half of the season to seeing their world fall apart after dropped points against West Brom, Sunderland, Everton and Swansea saw title rivals Manchester United convert an eight point deficit into an eight point lead.
On Monday night though, all of City's hard work and self-belief paid off as they beat United, convincingly, may we add, 1-0 to reclaim top spot, even if it is only on goal difference; and with only two games to go in the campaign, this could well prove to be the decisive blow.
The only goal of the game was scored by City captain Vincent Kompany, when the Belgian international rose highest from a David Silva corner to probably repay every single penny of his transfer fee. The centre-back is in a confident and title-hungry mood following the winner.
"I am buzzing. We have been waiting for this moment. We know it's far from over but we've given our fans two wins over United. We have to finish it off. I hope we can do it in the two games we have left. Everybody wants it so bad," Kompany said in a report by The Sun.
Meanwhile, in a typical show of spirit and determination, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson refused to throw in the towel, saying "it's not over yet".
"They are in the driving seat. It's not over yet. But they have an eight-goal advantage. That is a big advantage at this time of the season," the grizzled Scot said. Ferguson was also less than impressed, he conveyed, in a Guardian report, at Mancini "haranguing" the referees.
"He refereed the game," Ferguson said, adding, "He was out on that touchline the whole game haranguing the referee, the fourth official and the linesmen. The minute I come off the bench for a bad tackle by De Jong on Welbeck, he was out again. He can't have it both ways. He's been complaining about referees this season but he won't be complaining tonight that's for sure."
However, he did add that Mancini's side did deserve to win the game.
"It was feisty, competitive, not a lot of goal chances. We're disappointed we never tested their goalkeeper. They had more threat as they had more action around the edge of our box," he explained, in another report by The Sun.
Mancini, meanwhile, was absolutely dismissive of any criticism, pointing out that his opposite number was no one to make such accusations.
"Who said this? Him, no? He doesn't talk with the referee or the fourth official? No, never. I didn't speak with him, he came towards me, but I can understand. I said nothing against him, only spoke to the fourth official," the Italian boss stressed.
Mancini also spoke on his side being title favourites and pointed out that in his opinion, his rivals were still favourites.
"United. They have the easier games. They play against Swansea and Sunderland. At this moment it will be easier for United. We have two strong games against Newcastle and QPR. One plays for [the] Champions League and one plays [to avoid] relegation. It is important we are top now but it is more important to be top on 13 May. This changes nothing. We are top but we need to win the next two games. It is an option for them to win the title - we have 83 points, so us and United can win the title," he said.
Either way, the Monday night result means City are within heartbreakingly close distance of their first league title in 44 years. United, meanwhile, will know that even if there are only two games left, all it really needs is one goal, at an inopportune time or, if it were to be particularly ironic and controversial, one wrong refereeing decision, to turn the title race on its head.