If David Moyes' departure from the club had been relatively serene in contrast with most managerial departures nowadays, his decision to sanction such an offer merely served to sour relations between the two clubs and made his efforts to secure the duo's signatures all the more difficult.
Moyes would eventually get his way with the rangy Belgian, paying an eye-watering £27.5m after a final £36m joint bid was equally laughed off.
The less said about that deal the better for Manchester United, with Everton - it's safe to say - coming off comfortably the better of the two parties in selling one of their former prized assets.
That they kept Baines laid down a marker to the rest of the Premier League that the club meant business and, having experienced a productive deadline day with the signings of Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy, Roberto Martinez's side have gone from strength to strength this term.
The playing style implemented has paid dividends, with the Toffees losing just twice so far this season, beating Manchester United and securing impressive points against Liverpool and leaders Arsenal.
But keeping Baines was arguably the foundation to their success so far. The 29-year-old has actually been usurped by Seamus Coleman as the outstanding full-back at times this season but it has hardly mattered.
Retaining a player of his ability was as clear a message as any to the rest of the Premier League 'big boys' that Everton simply will not be bullied into submission any more. It enabled them to join the elite rather than sit outside the window peering in.
The first half of the season has gone swimmingly for Martinez and his charges, who appear a good bet to gatecrash the top four at present and the news that Baines is on the brink of signing an extension to his Goodison Park contract will only aid the Toffees in reaffirming their status as bona fide challengers.
Martinez is slowly piecing together the perfect puzzle at Goodison Park and this appears to be the latest step towards achieving his goals. While Everton may lack the depth required at the back and up front to sustain their challenge, the signs are promising.
It was naturally assumed that Baines would complete a protracted move to Old Trafford in January after the summer of failed bids and boardroom conflict between the two clubs. That Martinez has held onto the star attraction on the blue half of Merseyside means the club are firmly on track under the Spaniard's tutelage.
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