It was the first Manchester derby since the ‘Welcome to Banchester’ hashtag. United supporters had started the term trending on social media in the wake of City’s suspension from the Champions League on February 14 pending an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

It referred to the infamous poster unveiled by the club in the blue half of the city following Carlos Tevez’s decision to swap sides in 2009. Looking back on the period of City dominance that has characterised the Sheikh Mansour era it would be wrong to consider it the defining moment when there was a shift of power to what Sir Alex Ferguson termed “the noisy neighbours”. That came when City won their first Premier League title in 2011.

Tevez was a component of the United team that won the Premier League title the season before he joined City but he was not its fulcrum - that role belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo and he was ably backed by Wayne Rooney, it was neither surprising - since Tevez had always given the impression that he was motivated more by the whims of his agent Kia Joorabchian - nor particularly damaging to United’s credibility. They had used an opportunity the previous summer to poach Dimitar Berbatov from under City’s noses.

Back then, United were still top dogs and while they lost the title to Chelsea the season after Tevez’s departure they were back on top of the perch a year after that.

Nevertheless what the Tevez transfer demonstrated to City was the capacity for what could be. If not a fatal blow to bitter rivals, it was a symbolic awakening. And then came everything else: four City league crowns to United’s one. Forget Banchester, it has been the Bants-chester era ever since.

The uncomfortable truth for United is that they have been playing catch up for years and getting nowhere near close. For those of a red persuasion, City’s potential hiatus from the Champions League represents not just a chance to gain a place in next season’s competition that at one time seemed lost to them, it also hints at a reversal in fortunes, an end to the indignity that has haunted them since City first got their hands on Abu Dhabi’s millions.

And so to yesterday. The erosion of City’s omnipotence has been perceptible this season, their desultory form presaged UEFA’s guilty judgment on two counts of breaching the rules on Financial Fair Play. This was their seventh league defeat of the campaign, already three more than the whole of last season. They had won four games on the spin since losing 2-0 to Tottenham last month but they have long since had to accept that their title ambitions lie in ruins. United, too, have expedited the date on which Liverpool, their other big rivals, will lift the trophy. 

They will take comfort nonetheless. Here was further evidence that the gap might just be closing on City. United extended their unbeaten run to 10 games - a period that has consisted of seven wins and three draws. They had beaten their neighbours at the Etihad in January to kickstart it, winning the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final 1-0. They had also accounted for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge when the Londoners were in the midst of a sticky patch.

But this was different, United matched their rivals, albeit spending much of the second half defending resolutely. It was a game short on incident but the one moment of real quality belonged to United.

In Bruno Fernandes they have a talisman to match the silkiest of players possessed by City, even if yesterday was one of his quieter games, but his delicious assist for Anthony Martial’s winner will provide hope for United fans that with a few similarly judicious signings in the summer, the Bants-chester era is coming to an end. 

Scott McTominay seized on Ederson’s howler to sweep the ball past the Brazilian, to raise hopes that it might be sooner rather than later.

And another thing: There can be no argument over Billy Gilmour

There has been a debate around Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour and his suitability for a Scotland call-up when Steve Clarke names his squad for the EURO 2020 play-off match against Israel on March 26 (and either Norway or Serbia five days later should they win).

There is no debate, however. It may be a position where Scotland are over-blessed but Gilmour has demonstrated in the course of his past two club games for Chelsea that he is more than ready to start in the international game; after all the key to the biggest stages these days is ball retention, something Gilmour excels at. 

Let’s consider the evidence: he was man of the match against Liverpool, the European and World Champions, and an Everton side containing a plethora of international midfielders. Despite its paucity this season it is still fair to say that the Premier League is a higher standard than international football.

There is a particularly pertinent example to be drawn from too. You are unlikely to see Lars Lagerback leaving out the prodigiously gifted striker Erling Braut Haaland when it comes to naming the Norway side to face Serbia in that other play-off. Yes, Haaland has more games under his belt than Gilmour but, in terms of pure talent, they are in similar brackets.

It seems to be a curiously Scottish trait to overlook young players for some great, untold fear. Quite why one would argue that Gilmour is ready for Chelsea but not for Scotland beggars belief.