In the wake of Manchester United's most recent financial statements coupled with a disappointing season on the pitch it is fair to say that their position as the most elite club in the country may be under threat sooner rather than later.
Finishing with the highest ever points total to come second in the league is by no means a disaster in what was a tumultuous season of ups and downs for all clubs. But a trophy-less season, the first since 2005, may be more troubling this time round especially as of course, the title to the 'noisy neighbours.'
Most alarming were perhaps the dismal performances in Europe which may have a few people in the higher echelons of the club twitching.
In seasons past United have soothed their financial 'limitations' with a pretty ridged transfer policy of purchasing youth at a reasonable price, with most importantly, a resale value.
This has been the expense of purchasing players who are closer to the cusp of being in their prime with the raw talents of Phil Jones, David De Gea and Chris Smalling bought over the last 18 months.
Whilst these players could make huge strides in the future it is the now that is as ever most pressing and when compared to the spending prowess of Manchester City, not even the world's most highly valued sports team according to Forbes can compete.
United have of course invested in potential, however, how similar does that sound to Arsene Wenger's mandate at Arsenal, where the prospect of success is given precedence? A cynic may say this ploy acts well as a buffer to alleviate pressure from a (lack of) immediate success, offering the allure of converting potential to greatness in the not too distant, but all-together vague future.
The classic 'transitional' seasons are used by all teams to essentially mark a season that will not amount to anything. But for the most successful team in the Premiere League's history, these 'blips' if you like have to be short lived, their effects immediate, with a 6% decline in revenue over the first quarter in 2012.
Arsenal have seemingly had many a 'transitional' season and the sense of satisfaction that the club guaranteed Champions League football next year is a perfect example of managing expectations. They were well below par in terms of challenging for titles this season, finishing 19 points off the top - it will be difficult to convince RVP to stay on this merit alone.
The trouble is that Manchester United now have to keep up with a behemoth in their own backyard, Liverpool stood and watched as United strolled past them to success after success over the last 20 years. It wouldn't be ridiculous to conceive that City, with their unlimited funds and their first ever Premiere League title, could do the same.
With the gradual balancing of the books comes a slow ebbing away of prestige and the frequency of seeing truly lavish spending has been limited.
Nothing is greater testament to that in United's case than the reinstatement of Paul Scholes signing on for another year. Whilst his return was a thoroughly pleasant one the nostalgic connotations only further reinforces that this United team, without the reliance of some of its old greats, is not a team of the highest order.
This was illustrated perfectly with the recent clash between United and City which went a very large way to tilt the title back in City's favour. United, if they believed they could have actually won that match, would have played as a 'vintage' United would, buccaneering and exciting.
Instead they were conservative, yes, a draw would have been enough to secure the title but Ferguson, if he believed this team were worthy champions perhaps he would not have given City as much respect.
As it transpired the right team won and went on to win the league, it was exceptionally close and you have to give Sir Alex Ferguson the credit he deserves for taking an average United team so close to the title once more.
But now that City have won, Pandora's Box has opened (or rather Sheikh Mansour's cheque book a little wider). The billions spent has collated a team that is strong enough to withstand the pressure of dethroning the 19 time champions whilst being on the verge of internal implosion on numerous occasions.
Now City can truly flaunt themselves in the transfer market. They may sell before they buy but that is only to remove the deadwood, this is a team - unlike United's, who's oldest player in the first team is Gareth Barry at 29, Ryan Giggs will be 10 years older next season.
Whilst congratulating the new champions, Sir Alex said: "I think we have a rich history, better than anyone and it'll take them a century to get to our level of history," something perhaps Liverpool would have thought to themselves at one point long ago. A concession that may indicate United might have to get used to a few more disappointing seasons to come.Suggest a correction