Sir Alex Ferguson appealed for the famous fighting spirit to see Manchester United through the crucial games that remain, though there was really no need against Fulham, who were about as convincing as their new statue and nowhere near as frightening.
United are now 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League with six games to play and, like this match, the title race no longer appears much of a contest.
This was more like a lap of honour than the later stages of a marathon, an undemanding stroll in the sun in front of warmly appreciative supporters in their shirt-sleeves.
United have not won anything yet, though it certainly feels as though the league is in the bag. Despite making eight changes from his midweek Champions League line-up and playing only one man up front, Ferguson still saw his side collect the points while barely breaking a sweat.
While the manager's horse might have pulled up in the Grand National, it is going to take a collapse of Devon Loch proportions to halt his team's run to an historic 19th title.
"It's all about winning at this stage, but we were a bit casual and lackadaisical in the second half," Ferguson said. "We played well in the first half and could have had a couple more, but we were wasteful in possession in the second half and could have been punished for that.
"Fulham are a good team, they had chances to score. I don't think it was a risk making so many changes, you have to trust your squad and we had quite a few players who needed games.
"I think I picked the right team, but it was slow in the second half. It was a hot day and I think a lot of people were sunbathing. The supporters must have been saving their voices for Tuesday against Chelsea."
For all that, when United took the lead in the 12th minute it was almost against the run of play.
Fulham had not been causing the home defence any great problems, yet, even by that early stage, they had managed three decent goal attempts – Tomasz Kuszczak saving from Gaël Kakuta and Moussa Dembélé before Bobby Zamora blazed wide when he should have at least hit the target.
Dimitar Berbatov's 21st goal of the season put an end to all that, confirming that, even with just the Bulgarian spearheading the attack, United carry a valid goal threat and, once behind, Fulham accepted their lot quite meekly.
Though Berbatov was in at the beginning of the move that brought the goal, he had taken up a position as a spectator on the edge of the box as Nani beat a couple of players in an attempt to score one of the solo goals of the season. Berbatov was only just level when the ball broke to him after Nani's shot rebounded from Chris Baird, but the flag stayed down and the striker made short work of beating Mark Schwarzer with a shot into the bottom corner.
There was also a suspicion of offside when Nani set up United's second, racing on to Patrice Evra's pass to beat the offside trap and evade Schwarzer's desperate rush from his area. The goalkeeper having sold himself too early, it was a simple matter for Nani to weigh up his options, though there was still a pleasing elegance about the way he calmly chipped the ball across goal for Antonio Valencia to nod in from close range.
Or at least it appeared that way at first… replays suggested Nani had been trying to shoot and the ball reached Valencia via Aaron Hughes's attempted goalline clearance.
Fulham hardly bothered to protest either of the borderline decisions, possibly because they were relieved United had not stirred themselves sufficiently to go further ahead.
Even with Wayne Rooney suspended, Ryan Giggs rested and Javier Hernández unused on the bench, the home side had chances. Anderson should have scored when Berbatov whisked past Brede Hangeland and cut the ball back to him, and when Nani, once more, evaded Baird and the rest of the Fulham cover on the left, his final delivery missed the three red shirts waiting on the six-yard line.
Fulham improved when Eidur Gudjohnsen came on in the second half and the substitute came close to scoring with a drive from outside the area that flew only inches wide, while Zoltan Gera missed an even better chance 10 minutes from the end. With Zamora also putting a free-kick narrowly wide, Fulham had enough opportunities to take something from the game as United coasted, though they seemed fearful of increasing the urgency in case it inspired United to step up theirs.
If the title race ended early with last weekend's results, as many suspect may turn out to be the case, then here was an early end-of-season game. It seemed to suit both sides.
"We never looked like getting back on terms after going two down," Fulham's manager, Mark Hughes, admitted. "The first was offside, but it was still a poor goal to concede. We didn't really ask enough questions of United and you always sensed they could up the tempo if they needed to.
"They are ticking off the games now. It's a big ask, but you've got to give them a chance of the Treble. If anyone can manage their resources over the remaining games, this club can. They understand what it takes."
SHAUN O'DONNELL, Observer reader I think we'll get No19 now. We keep winning and the others are running out of games. I thought we'd steamroll them, the way it started – Nani did some brilliant things first half – but after the second goal it turned into a bit of a damp squib. Fulham looked like a team waiting to go on holiday. We've got lots of games coming up, each one like a cup final, so it was good to have a more low-key game today.
The fan's player ratings Kuszczak 6; O'Shea 7, Smalling 7, Vidic 7, Evra 6; Scholes 7; Valencia 8 (Owen 73 6), Gibson 7, Anderson 7 (F da Silva 77 6), Nani 9 (Carrick 87 n/a); Berbatov 8
EDDIE FREMANTLE, Observer reader We created three good chances in the first 10 minutes, but once they scored it was game over. It was an end-of-season performance, including a horrible catalogue of errors for the second goal, and we wanted a bit more than that because they had rested a few. Gudjohnsen was a bright spark when he came on in the second half, but Vidic outclassed Zamora all game and we missed Duff a lot.
The fan's player ratings Schwarzer 5; Baird 6, Hughes 7, Hangeland 5, Salcido 5; Kakuta 4, Etuhu 5 (Gera 68 6), Murphy 7 (Greening 82 n/a), Dempsey 5; Dembélé 5 (Gudjohnsen 57 8), Zamora 6
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