They had beaten Sunderland 1-0 and City were losing 2-1 at the Etihad, with their game entering stoppage time.
Even City midfielder Gareth Barry thought a helicopter flying over the Eastlands Stadium was swiftly taking the real Premier League trophy up to wearside, despite five minute's stoppage-time being held up by the fourth official.
In fact, so close to full time was it at City, that boards heralding United as champions were being readied for a presentation ceremony at the Stadium of Light.
However, 140 miles away, as the clock struck 4.52pm, something incredible happened.
First, Edin Dzeko headed home to level the score at 2-2 against QPR. The boards and fireworks in Sunderland, meanwhile, were still being set up. United, as things stood, were still champions.