After emerging on the right side of this seven-goal gala, Sir Alex Ferguson turned the screw on Roberto Mancini, claiming Manchester City have to qualify for the Europa League to keep his players happy and for the Italian's own professional pride.
United travel to City for Sunday's derby with a three-point lead. Before then Mancini's team are at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday for the final Champions League group game knowing victory offers the best chance of securing third place and qualification for the second-tier European competition.
Ferguson, is aware that if City are not in the Europa League their focus can be solely centred on retaining their title. "I don't know if City would have an advantage," he said. "I'm not sure it would suit them. You can spend more time on the training ground, no question, but then you have to deal with the fact you're not in European football and every manager wants to do well in Europe. I do, anyway.
"City need to beat Borussia Dortmund. I don't think losing for a big club is very healthy. On one hand you can be fresh for the second half of the season and play a fresh team every week but how do you keep them all happy if they're out of the League Cup and they go out of the European Cup?
"I don't know enough about the City players as I've never worked with any of them apart from Carlos Tevez. Sometimes players want to play every week. And you want to keep the momentum going and the interest going."
United's own holy grail is to grind out a few of the 1-0 victories that mark the road to the title, the Scot said recently. Edging a seven-goal thriller over Reading accentuates the evidence building all season long that his side are still not paying heed as the crucial derby beckons.
Against City United may be boosted by the return of Nemanja Vidic following his knee injury, with Ferguson considering fielding his captain in Wednesday's Champions League match against CFR Cluj at Old Trafford with qualification at the top of the group already assured for United. "I'm hopeful maybe Vidic will play," he said. "There's a good chance he will but it depends on how he feels himself. It allows me to give Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Vidic [a game] in a strong back-four and Alexander Büttner would be left-back.
"I knew Vida was doing really well with the physios. He was doing his football training with them in terms of turning and striking the ball but he came into training last Monday with the first team and did okay. He's a battler, an absolute competitor. He's got that dour, uncompromising way of his. He likes defending."
Last season United went down in each league derby, 7-1 on aggregate, as City won the title on goal difference. Darren Fletcher, who operated alongside Michael Carrick as defensive midfield shields here in a flimsy United back six, is conscious that whoever wins Manchester's bragging rights should take the title. He said: "We saw last season it was important. We lost twice and we lost the league. That was a major factor in that. So we don't want to give them any advantage by them winning against us, and it's about time we got a result against them."
All seven goals at the Madejski were scored in a frantic 26 minutes. Hal Robson-Kanu's volley gave Reading the lead, Wayne Rooney's penalty and Anderson's left-foot rocket made it 2-1 to United, Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison restored the Royals' advantage and Rooney's second equalised again for the visitors before Robin van Persie's 34th-minute finish proved the winner.
While the Dutchman also had a legitimate goal chalked off when Adrian Mariappa's clearance was wrongly judged to have been on the line, Fletcher picked up Ferguson's disquiet that for a 14th time this season United had conceded first.
All Reading's goals came from aerial balls, with two Nicky Shorey corners supplying the bullets for Le Fondre and Morrison to fire home headers. Fletcher said: "Yes, it's becoming a concern. But, particularly at set pieces, it's individual mistakes, which we can try and sort out. The first goal was a fantastic finish from the lad, but we can't keep conceding. Going against teams like City, they will definitely punish any slack defending, so we're going to have to be on top of our game."
Anderson pulled a hamstring which may rule him out for a "few weeks", Ferguson said, while for Brian McDermott there was pride but his side remain second-bottom. "I have got the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama at home, I will probably read that," the Reading manager said. In a long season, he may need it.
Man of the match Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)