Because of their uncharacteristically mediocre start to their Premier League campaign, a term where they have already lost five - or almost a third (31%) - of their matches in the division thus far while conceding an extraordinary 19 goals, Manchester United have been described by former player Michael Owen as 'the story of the season'.
At certain times this year they have been closer (in terms of points collected, not position) to the relegation zone than they have the top spot and, while some in the media and especially fans discount them now as genuine title challengers, there are those in the sport who continue to credit David Moyes and his side as a legitimate threat.
Since a succession of defeats to both Everton and Newcastle United at their own ground, Moyes has managed to turn the screw, scalping Shakthar Donetsk in a confidence-rebuilder before defeating Aston Villa in the Premier League and Stoke City in the League Cup quarter-final.
For Owen, this could bode well in the short-term, as he wrote on his SportLobster blog: 'It's early days in [David Moyes'] reign and the last few results suggest there is plenty of life left in some of the most decorated players The Premier League has ever seen.'
Owen does not a few potential flaws in the United set-up. He questioned, for instance, the purchase of Marouane Fellaini as the Belgium has struggled to provide an immediate return on Moyes' investment and believes he instead should have targeted Ross Barkley.
However, traditionally, there is one trait that has been synonymous with United culture. They have legs to last a season, they have experience and a squad capable to meet the rotations necessary to realise their ambitions. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, the club were consistently tough opposition in the second-half of the season.
Owen expects Moyes to continue this trait: 'Make no mistake, every team will be looking over their shoulders dreading that famous post Christmas surge that has been a trademark of United over the past two decades.'
Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Everton, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are all ahead of them in the league table, so it remains to be seen just how many of those teams United can leap-frog in the next 22 match-days.
image: © wonker