It seems like ancient history by now, but for a time Manchester City were desperate to sign Alexis Sanchez, and he was just as desperate to make it happen.
In the end, of course, he ended up at United. Despite some embarrassment at failing to land their absolute priority target after putting in so much effort, City have not looked back, and it cannot be said that they have ‘missed’ the Chilean one bit.
Alexis himself rightly points out that United are a club he has admired for a long time, and having scored his second goal for his new club last weekend, he will be focused on getting his career back on track after a difficult season with both Arsenal and United.
But when he lines up in the tunnel at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, ready to take on the club he was so keen to join, he may take a look at those around him and wish, for a brief moment at least, that things had turned out differently.
He may well go on to be a great bit of business for United, especially as they look to build around him in the transfer market this summer, looking to bridge the gap to City.
But there is currently a big gap between the two sides, in terms of points and performances, and that’s because City have been so brilliant throughout the season, even without landing the man Guardiola wanted to sign above even a new goalkeeper and much-needed full-backs.
It seems strange now, given the fortunes of City and Alexis in the intervening months, but the Catalan felt the Chilean would be perfect for his squad, adding in one fell swoop the kind of experience, quality and winning mentality that he believed his young forwards had not yet acquired.
Three games into the season, it certainly looked like City were missing something.
Ahead of their game at Bournemouth, Guardiola even took the unusual step of admitting he was “worried” about his side’s profligacy in front of goal.
In public, he was reduced to hoping for some kind of magic moment, that something would simply click and his forwards would start scoring. In private, he was desperate to get Alexis through the door by the end of the transfer window.
Just 24 hours after Guardola had wished for it, City’s forwards did, in fact, click – Raheem Sterling’s late, late goal at Bournemouth proved to be the moment of clarity, with City scoring 24 goals in their next five Premier League games.
Those five games, including fine wins against Liverpool and Chelsea, set the tone for their dominant season, and they have not looked back despite the fact that the transfer window closed with Alexis signing a City contract that was never submitted to the Football Association (FA).
For a while, Guardiola came round to the idea that he could do without him; Leroy Sane and Sterling were doing better than was expected in pre-season (Guardiola was less than impressed with Sane’s efforts in the United States) and the Catalan felt a new forward arriving in January would disrupt their growth.
An injury to Gabriel Jesus on New Year’s Eve forced another rethink, however, and within a fortnight City were back at the table with Arsenal.
In the end, City pulled the plug when Alexis’ agent asked them for more money – it was not the amount of money that put them off, simply the request, having already agreed upon terms. The talk of the fees involved, from the City end, serve as proof that some at the club were embarrassed at how the saga had ended.
Especially as many soon wondered whether Alexis would galvanise Mourinho’s men and help them close the gap on City this season – or at least stop them winning the title in April’s derby, a scenario which had been on the table since Christmas.
Instead, City have continued their march to the title, while Alexis has struggled for his best form since arriving at Old Trafford and United have continued to have their ups and downs.
It means that, after everything, City can ram home their superiority over United this weekend.
That is why it is hard to escape the feeling that Alexis, as he takes on his would-be employers, will be wondering what may have been. After all, he was as keen to join City as City were to sign him.
And not least because was determined to leave Arsenal because he felt the Londoners had no chance of winning the Premier League.
Come Saturday evening he could be watching on as the team he was ready to join realises one of his dreams. More than anything, that will hammer home the current difference between the two sides, and few will take as much notice as Alexis.