RYAN Giggs has claimed it would be "a massive achievement" if Manchester United go on to wrap up a record 20th league title.
Sunday's controversial 2-0 win over QPR at Old Trafford, followed immediately by Manchester City's defeat at Arsenal, means Alex Ferguson's men now have an eight-point advantage at the top with only six games of the season remaining.
Although Ferguson is leading the call for caution, it is impossible to imagine United throwing that kind of lead away in such a short period of time.
The added potential of actually winning the league at the Etihad Stadium on April 30 could make this campaign one of the most sweet for Giggs and his team-mates, who were written off after their 6-1 home battering by City in October.
And, given the opposition, the loss of so many experienced players and the need to integrate a new goalkeeper in David de Gea, Giggs feels this campaign deserves special credit.
“It would be huge,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Wigan.
“When you look at the spending power Manchester City have, the injuries we've had, the experience we've lost – Scholesy (Paul Scholes) for half the season, Edwin van der Sar, John O'Shea, Wes Brown.
“Then the challenge we faced bringing in a new goalkeeper – David de Gea came in for a lot of criticism early on but he's worked hard and he's showing terrific form at a key time – and the young talent we've blooded in, it would be a massive achievement.”
The impact Scholes has had since his return in January cannot be understated.
Patrick Vieira, football development executive at City, might have viewed it as an act of desperation, which in a sense is correct.
However, unlike Carlos Tevez's comeback at City so far, the move has proved to be a masterstroke.
Evidently, the 37-year-old has lost none of his ability and dictated the entire rhythm of yesterday's game like the footballing equivalent of a quarterback.
He has also rediscovered his eye for goal, belting home his third of the season to secure the latest triumph in an eight-match winning streak.
“Paul has had a massive impact,” said midfield partner Michael Carrick.
“We all know how good he is and what he brings to the team, on and off the pitch. To come back and play straightaway like he has is amazing really. He has a lot of games left in him yet.”
Although there has been no official announcement, it seems certain Scholes will extend his career by another season, by which time it would be staggering if he had failed to collect an 11th championship medal. It is a number only exceeded by Giggs, who is heading for his 13th, and whose injury-time winner at Norwich in February might be viewed as one of the key moments in the entire campaign. “You need those moments in a season if you're going to go on and win the league,” Carrick said. “Moments like that provide belief and confidence. Just look at what Federico Macheda's goal against Aston Villa did for us a few years ago.
“Who knows? That game at Norwich may turn out to be one of those days we look back on at the end of the season as being pivotal.”
It is fairly obvious to say that of equal importance has been the apparent implosion across town to the extent that tomorrow's meeting with West Brom now looks far from an easy task for the Blues, although as United boast a 14-match 100pc record against Wigan, even victory is unlikely to get them any closer. “We can only do what we can do,” said Carrick. “If we keep winning games the gap will stay the same. That has to be our aim.”
United are expected to make changes for the game at the DW Stadium. Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling will be amongst those hoping for a start, with Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand likely to be rested for the overwhelming title favourites.
Nani (ankle) is fit but did not even make the bench against QPR on Sunday.