Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United trotted out the stars for Dons legend Neil Simpson in yesterday’s benefit match with Fergie’s old club Aberdeen.
United lost, 2-1, but the joy of seeing Darren Fletcher back on the pitch would have lifted any sense of foreboding that the Red Devils may have felt.
Ferguson has been stoic in his insistence that his midfield is going to be the star of his side’s return to trophies this season.
He picked Michael Carrick as the key man. Now, he can add Fletcher to that mix.
Despite his relentless pursuit of Robin Van Persie, which sceptics now see as a move to deny Arsenal his services as much as a move for the Dutch star to score for Old Trafford, Fergie will have one eye on Manchester City and Yaya Toure.
Their midfield engine is purring away already.
With Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool all bulking up their midfield, the Premier League could well be won and lost in the middle of the park.
What Xavi and Iniesta are to Barcelona, Carrick and Fletcher are to United.
If not in terms of actual skill and positioning, certainly in terms of what they bring to the team’s mental and on-field make-up.
Both are due to prove that they are top-level players.
Fletcher is on the road to recovery from a chronic inflammatory bowel condition, featured for United for the first time since a Champions League match against Benfica last November.
With veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, and the likes of Tom Cleverley on hand, United will hope their midfield can hold, pass, move and score with enough depth and aplomb to take one all comers.
Darren Fletcher back is a big boost.