With a place in the UEFA Champions League second round in the bag and a one-point lead at top of the Barclays Premier League, Manchester United are well placed for glory this season.
However, the Reds have yet to hit anything close to what might resemble top form and have, at times, looked worryingly ordinary in several matches against "lesser" opponents.
So how is it that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are able to achieve so much, in relative terms given the contest, with so little? The answer is down to good management and a strong mentality.
The good news for United fans is that things should only get better. Here, I assess three factors that suggest the Reds are set for an extremely competitive, if not glorious, trophy-laden campaign.
Sir Alex Ferguson has often stated his belief that it takes four years for a team to realise its true potential and capabilities, a theory that has been proven throughout his tenure at the club.
It is widely recognised that last season was the first year of such a cycle, following the retirements of Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes (yes, he came back), followed by the departures of fan favourites John O’Shea and Wes Brown.
In came Phil Jones, David De Gea and Ashley Young to form a new, younger and more inexperienced squad with a much lower average age. In blunt reality, it was a miracle that the Reds were able to come so close to winning the title, never mind challenge, given the usual effects of transition.
United are only going to improve throughout this season, the next one and the one after that. Patience is a virtue in football, and some supporters would do well to recognise this.
Football folk often refer to the spine of a winning team being the most important foundation for success, meaning you won’t go far without a steady goalkeeper, two central defenders, two or three combative central midfielders and at least one goal scoring centre forward.
While United have the forward positions in perfect working order, stability in goal is completely lacking and the central areas in defence and midfield have seen more combinations than a Rubik’s Cube in the last 12 months.
It is in spite of this, though, that the Reds have enjoyed some "success" and have somehow managed to maintain an effective, legitimate challenge for honours. When stability in these key positions is introduced, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men could be a side to be reckoned with.
Manchester United’s club captain and defensive stalwart Nemanja Vidic has barely kicked a competitive ball since last December when injury ruled him out for the considerable future.
However, the Serbian behemoth is set to return during the December month (via Daily Mail).
In short, Vidic’s presence will be a huge boost for the Reds and could provide some much-needed stability at the back. Don’t understand his significance to the team? Imagine Manchester City without Vincent Kompany or Chelsea without John Terry and you come close to realising the loss.