Both teams attacked admirably in a stunning show of offensive verve. But without a late winner, a referee's decision might have served as the main talking point.
Mike Dean, for that matter, is a courageous genius, willing and able to withstand Fergie's fury. Or else he's an idiot.
Newcastle, meanwhile, no longer benefit from the element of surprise. But on Wednesday, Alan Pardew's players came agonizingly close to stunning the league leaders.
Topping the table at Christmas is no guarantee of glory come spring. But a winter day's worth of positive results means Sir Alex Ferguson's men must fancy their chances.
Manchester United, currently England's best team, cannot stop scoring. They also can't defend.
And, most illuminating of all: United are either a bad great team or a great bad one. There really is no in between.
It all depends on the day, and maybe on which team shows up.
With that (and with Manchester City's latest loss at Sunderland), United suddenly held a seven-point lead atop the world's most exciting league. All without ever looking like the best team in their own stadium.
And Javier Hernandez, so often so effective in late-game situations, popped up with the stoppage-time winner after missing multiple chances throughout a rare 90-minute run-out.
Altogether, the result was a dramatic win, probably the match of the Premier League season so far and perhaps a turning point in the title race.
United started without Wayne Rooney (injured in Christmas Day training) and began the match without a striker on the bench. His absence could be no excuse, though, no matter how influential he may be.
Newcastle played without Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye, a trio that played a vital role in the Magpies' surprising run to fifth place last season. Besides, United's problems came at the other end of the pitch.
The dangerous Demba Ba set up Newcastle's first in the fourth minute with a long-range shot that left United keeper David de Gea unaccountably bamboozled. James Perch popped up to poke home the rebound, scoring for the first time in nearly three years.
Newcastle's second goal was the controversial one, scored by Jonny Evans on his own net and assisted by Papiss Cisse's offside positioning. It's possible to agree with, disagree with or crack wise about the decision, but it's impossible to deny that United's defense lacked focus and consistency.
Even if Cisse had been active in his offside position—and it's probably true that he was—the more important fact was that United simply made too many mistakes throughout the match. And while Ferguson might have had an argument to make about Dean’s controversial decision, he should have made it after the match and inside the confines of the rules—not out on the pitch and all over the touchline.
Will Manchester United win the Premier League this season?
And yet, that nagging notion remains. Either this is a great team that sometimes plays poorly, or this is a deeply flawed team that often plays heroically. Maybe, though, it's a little of both.
FT: 4-3. The 8th time MUFC have come from one goal down to win in PL this season. Fantastic game. But still questions about this MUFC side— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceIndy) December 26, 2012
Questions—and contradictions—do indeed plague this team. Fortunately for Fergie, few if any English teams seem capable of asking the right ones.