When Paul Scholes retired following the 2010-11 season, which saw him collect his 10th league title as a Manchester United player, he instantly placed himself among the list of legends at Old Trafford.
In addition to his plethora of trophies - including three FA Cups, two League Cups and two Champions League titles - Scholes endeared himself to United supporters with a bulldog-like approach in midfield that was a trademark for the Red Devils since 1994, his first season with the club.
It was a bit odd seeing Scholes trot onto the field in the 59th minute wearing the number 22 shirt instead of his customary 18, which now belongs to winger Ashley Young.
But once on the field, the 37-year-old was back to zipping passes around the center of the pitch and looking to get stuck into any challenge that came along.
"For the last few weeks he has been training very hard with the reserves and doing a lot of work in the gymnasium," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said. "He said he regrets retiring so there were no negatives for me. The players were delighted, I was delighted and I know the fans are delighted.
"We have stepped up his training for the last few weeks and he started to take part in our sessions during the week. It is a terrific addition to our squad at a very important part of the season."
It had to be a joy to United fans to see their red-headed hero back in the lineup, while teammates also expressed their happiness at the return of the former England international.
"It was a massive boost for all of us," said United defender Chris Smalling. "I was really disappointed when he called it a day last year. I spoke to Danny (Welbeck) before the game, we were really excited that he's back and it gave the whole squad a boost."
There is no doubt that the return of Scholes lifted spirits in the dressing room, but how much he has left to offer on the pitch is another matter.
Central midfield is an area that could use some help with the long-term absences of Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher, and Scholes certainly brings a healthy amount of experience to the position.
However, his ability to keep up with younger and faster players in the middle of the field has to be a question mark, considering he struggled at times to do so prior to his retirement.
United has been linked with top-notch midfielders like Luka Modric, Mario Gotze and even Chelsea's Frank Lampard in recent weeks. The validity of these rumors is up for debate, but the fact remains that the club must find reinforcements in January, not just settle for the return of Scholes.
Sunday's match further exposed some of the weaknesses that have troubled the club as Ferguson's men had trouble holding onto a three-goal lead against the 10 men of City.
Injuries in defense have hit United hard as well, giving the manager a few things to consider during the January transfer window as he ponders how to make up a three-point deficit on City over the second half of the season.
The return of Scholes makes for a nice story, but if he is to add another piece of silverware to his extensive trophy cabinet, more help must be on the way.