Sir Alex Ferguson still thinks the Manchester derby could decide the Premier League title despite the widening gap between United and City.
Ferguson's men moved five points clear of their local rivals after Monday's 2-0 victory over Blackburn and have now won their last seven league matches.
In contrast, City have won only one of their last four games and could be eight points behind the champions when they kick-off at Arsenal on Sunday.
It is even conceivable that the title could be wrapped up by the time the two teams meet at the Etihad Stadium on April 30.
But Ferguson told Northern Irish radio station U105.8fm: "Derby games are always important, and it could be even more important this year.
"It's bound to have an impact on the eventual winner, albeit that we're going into it with a nice, healthy lead."
And Ferguson was keen to highlight the contribution of Northern Ireland international defender Jonny Evans in recent months.
Filling the void
Evans has been asked to fill the void left by Nemanja Vidic, who suffered a serious knee injury in December, and has responded with a series of impressive displays.
"He's been excellent," said Ferguson. "He's maturing, his form in the last two months with Rio Ferdinand has been absolutely fantastic and that's really important to have a partnership at the back that's consistent and playing all the time."
Meanwhile, Ferguson revealed he will take his strongest available squad to Northern Ireland for the testimonial of former United goalkeeper Harry Gregg at Windsor Park on May 15.
United will face an Irish League Select XI managed by Sunderland's Martin O'Neill and Linfield boss David Jeffrey to honour the 79-year-old Gregg, a hero of the Munich disaster.
"We're bringing our strongest team over," added Ferguson.
"For Manchester United to honour a player who, apart from (saving) his peers from the Munich air disaster, you've got to remember the career he had here. It's absolutely apt that we send our best squad."