Sir Alex Ferguson is pinning his Premier League title hopes on Newcastle avoiding defeat to Manchester City on Sunday after dismissing any prospect of a miraculous championship win on goal difference.
Manchester United's defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Monday means they surrendered top spot to City and with two games remaining, United's hopes of retaining their title depends on either City dropping points or recording big wins themselves against Swansea and Sunderland that would allow them to claim the title on goal difference.
Ferguson is hoping for the former, and said: "The challenge for City is to win at Newcastle (on Sunday). Newcastle is a very difficult place and they are playing well."
However, Ferguson spoke with the air of a man who believes Roberto Mancini's team would triumph, meaning the championship could be decided on goal difference.
And the Scot believes the current gap of eight goals is weighted so much in City's favour to render Mancini's claim that United remain favourites dubious in the extreme.
"What do you think?" Ferguson said. "They have got two games left. If they win their two games they win the league.
"People talk about goal difference, but it depends how many they win by. Say they win 3-0 on Sunday, their lead would be 11 and they still have QPR at home. That would be impossible."
If City win at Newcastle, it is easy to imagine United finding Swansea very tough to overcome.
By contrast, the lift received from any slip up should act as such motivation that Ferguson would not be needed to make a team-talk.
"We will be aware of what is going on because everyone will be watching it, hoping it works out for us," he said. "You can't avoid it, but whether we pay a lot of attention to it I don't know because we still have to prepare for our own game. We are not going to be neglecting that part."