Back in August the sun was shining, the birds were singing and Manchester United could not buy a win.
The champions started the season with draws at home to Reading and away to Portsmouth.
LEAGUE POSITIONS ON 19 AUGUST
2 CHELSEA Pld 3 Pts 7
7 ARSENAL Pld 2 Pts 4
9 LIVERPOOL Pld 2 Pts 4
16 MAN UTD Pld 3 Pts 2
Goals in August
Fernando Torres - 1 in 3 games
Didier Drogba - 1 in 4
Emmanuel Adebayor - 0 in 1
Cristiano Ronaldo - 0 in 2
But worse was to follow on 19 August when they were beaten away by local rivals Manchester City.
United were without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was suspended following his red card for a headbutt at Pompey, but they still dominated at Eastlands.
However, nothing was going right for Sir Alex Ferguson's men and Geovanni won the game with a shot deflected off Nemanja Vidic.
It was United's worst start to a campaign since the first Premier League season back in 1992-93.
It left them in 16th place, with City leading the table with a 100% record under new coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and their proud owner Thaksin Shinawatra.
The only bright spot for United was that their rivals failed to capitalise, with Jens Lehmann's error contributing to Arsenal's 1-1 draw against Blackburn and Liverpool and Chelsea cancelling each out at Anfield.
But how would United respond to such early setbacks?
And what about the fairytale at City, would Sven and Thaksin live happily ever after?
What they said
"We've got ourselves an uphill fight now. Ten years ago we could have handled it because we were always good in the second half of the season - now we are going to have to be." Sir Alex Ferguson
What you said
"I don't care who says it's only three games. It could be seven points in two hours, and that's way too much against Chelsea. RageOfReaper on 606
What the papers said
"Demolition Derby" - Daily Express
"Eriksson the blue hero as City turn United's slide into slump" - The Independent
United's response to the City defeat was to squeeze out four consecutive 1-0 victories.
Meanwhile, Chelsea were having a wobbly patch of their own.
LEAGUE POSITIONS ON 23 SEPTEMBER
1 ARSENAL Pld 6 Pts 16
2 MAN UTD Pld 7 Pts 14
4 LIVERPOOL Pld 6 Pts 12
6 CHELSEA Pld 7 Pts 11
Goals in September
Cristiano Ronaldo - 1 in 3
Emmanuel Adebayor - 6 in 4
Fernando Torres - 2 in 4
Didier Drogba - 0 in 2
Roman Abramovich's reaction to a defeat at Aston Villa and a couple of draws at home was to sack manager Jose Mourinho and replace him with the largely unknown Avram Grant.
Avram who? was the general response.
The Israeli's first task in trying to fill the boots of the Special One was a trip to Old Trafford on 23 September, and he was not helped by the absence of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Ricardo Carvalho.
They went down 2-0 but referee Mike Dean attempted to deflect some of the attention off Grant and Abramovich with a controversial display.
Chelsea's fans chanted Mourinho's name but their players produced a battling display, only for Dean to harshly send off Jon Mikel Obi after half an hour and the Blues conceded a goal deep in first-half injury time.
A Louis Saha penalty in the 90th minute secured the three points for United, who were in the middle of an 11-game winnning streak in the league and Europe.
They needed to be in order to keep pace with Arsenal, who were in irresistible form.
A week later and Chelsea were held at home to Fulham to lose further ground on their title rivals.
It would be fair to say that the departure of Mourinho had left a gaping hole at Stamford Bridge, if not English football.
Grant had promised Chelsea fans that what he lacked in charisma and an ability to wind up Sir Alex Ferguson, he would make up with by bringing sexy football to the Bridge.
LEAGUE POSITIONS ON 28 OCTOBER
1 ARSENAL Pld 10 Pts 26
2 MAN UTD Pld 11 Pts 26
4 CHELSEA Pld 11 Pts 21
6 LIVERPOOL Pld 10 Pts 20
Goals in October
Cristiano Ronaldo - 2 in 3
Emmanuel Adebayor - 0 in 3
Fernando Torres - 1 in 2
Didier Drogba - 3 in 2
There had been little sign of it in his first handful of games, with a couple of Mourinho-like wins over Bolton and Middlesbrough.
But they were to explode into life at home to Manchester City by handing out a 6-0 thrashing on 27 October.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's previously in-form side had few answers as they were steamrollered by Grant's men.
The players and the formation differed little from Mourinho's time, but the scoreline surpassed anything the Portuguese coach had managed in his three-and-a-bit years at the Bridge.
At the back the Blues were looking ominous - they had not conceded in the league since the United defeat - and up front Didier Drogba was starting to find his goalscoring touch after a slow start to the season.
On the same day United were also showing they meant business with a 4-1 win over Middlesbrough - the fourth successive game they had scored four goals.
The following day Liverpool and Arsenal shared a 1-1 draw at Anfield, leaving the Gunners still unbeaten but looking over their shoulder as their rivals closed in.
A week after Arsenal's draw at Anfield, the Gunners were given the sternest test of their title credentials against United.
They came through it with flying colours but almost ended pointless in a game they dominated.
LEAGUE POSITIONS ON 3 NOVEMBER
1 ARSENAL Pld 11 Pts 27
2 MAN UTD Pld 12 Pts 27
4 CHELSEA Pld 12 Pts 24
7 LIVERPOOL Pld 11 Pts 21
Goals in November
Cristiano Ronaldo - 3 in 2
Emmanuel Adebayor - 1 in 3
Fernando Torres - 1 in 2
Didier Drogba - 1 in 2
At the Emirates on 3 November United went ahead through a tame Wayne Rooney shot that deflected off William Gallas, before Cesc Fabregas levelled.
Ronaldo looked to have stolen the three points only for Gallas to turn from villain to hero with an injury-time equaliser at the right end, as his effort was correctly adjudged to have crossed the line by the assistant referee.
It was widely regarded as a fully-deserved point for Arsenal, who made it a club record 25 games unbeaten in all competitions.
They would go on to extend that to 28 games before a Champions League loss at Sevilla.
Arsene Wenger's young side had overcome the loss of Thierry Henry, were scoring goals, top of the table, flying in Europe and they were doing it all with some style.
Christmas came a day late for football fans in England.
For the neutral, Boxing Day was a cracker, with 29 goals in the top flight - and only two of them coming against Derby.
It started off with a contender for game of the season at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea and Aston Villa drawing 4-4 in a match that also had three red cards, controversial goals and disputed penalties.
LEAGUE POSITIONS ON 26 DECEMBER
1 MAN UTD Pld 19 Pts 45
2 ARSENAL Pld 19 Pts 44
3 CHELSEA Pld 19 Pts 38
4 LIVERPOOL Pld 18 Pts 36
Goals in December
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7 in 6
Emmanuel Adebayor - 4 in 7
Fernando Torres - 4 in 6
Didier Drogba - 0 in 1
Gareth Barry's injury-time spot-kick earned Villa a point and handed Manchester United and Arsenal a chance to extend their advantage.
There would be no season of goodwill for Sunderland as United rested some first-team players but still steamrollered them 4-0 at the Stadium of Light.
The fall-out from United's Christmas party antics was still bubbling away, but on the field it was business as usual as they won their fifth league game in a row to go top and seven points clear of Chelsea.
Arsenal had beaten Chelsea and Spurs inside a week but suffered a Boxing Day hangover when they were frustrated at Fratton Park, with Pompey holding firm for a goalless draw.
Liverpool needed a last-minute winner by Steven Gerrard to beat Derby and remain clinging on to the coat-tails of the leaders, but that would all change in January.
If one game was to decide the fate of a team's season, it was at St Andrews on 23 February.
Arsene Wenger had opted not to dip into the transfer market in January, deciding to stick with the players who had taken his side to the top of the table.
LEAGUE POSITIONS ON 23 FEBRUARY
1 ARSENAL Pld 27 Pts 64
2 MAN UTD Pld 27 Pts 61
3 CHELSEA Pld 26 Pts 55
4 LIVERPOOL Pld 26 Pts 47
Goals in February
Cristiano Ronaldo - 2 in 3
Emmanuel Adebayor - 3 in 3
Fernando Torres - 4 in 2
Didier Drogba - 0 in 0
But as the title race approached the last lap his weary squad began to flag.
A below-strength side had been well beaten 4-0 at United in the FA Cup and they were left emotionally battered and bruised at Birmingham.
A win would have put them eight points clear of United, who were playing later that day.
But nothing went right for Arsenal, who lost Eduardo for the season to a horrific injury, and there was further damage when James McFadden scored from the penalty spot in injury time to seal a 2-2 draw.
It was all too much for captain William Gallas, who staged a sit-down protest and had to be comforted by Wenger at the end of the match, and the Gunners would struggle to recover.
It would also prove to be a pivotal point for United and Chelsea.
United, who lost for a second time to rivals City earlier in the month on the day of the Munich memorial, would follow Arsenal's draw with a 5-1 win over Newcastle.
Their two games with the Magpies had boosted their goal difference by 10 goals, giving them virtually an extra point on their rivals.
The gap at the top was narrowed and the momentum had shifted significantly in United's favour.
A day later Chelsea lost the League Cup final to Spurs amid a talk of a rift between skipper John Terry and Grant, who was heavily criticised for his tactics at Wembley.
It was a major setback to Grant's hopes of winning over the fans and seemed set to scupper their lingering title aspirations.
Going into April, United held a five-point lead with six games remaining.
The league table suggested the title was as good as over, but the fixture list argued that they had two final furlongs to cover before the celebrations could begin.
LEAGUE POSITIONS ON 26 APRIL
1 MAN UTD Pld 36 Pts 81
2 CHELSEA Pld 36 Pts 81
3 ARSENAL Pld 35 Pts 74
4 LIVERPOOL Pld 36 Pts 70
Goals in April
Cristiano Ronaldo - 2 in 4
Emmanuel Adebayor - 5 in 4
Fernando Torres - 1 in 2
Didier Drogba - 0 in 1
A draw at Middlesbrough gave the contenders renewed hope but when United came from a goal down to beat Arsenal at Old Trafford it seemed they could afford a slip-up at Chelsea on 26 April and still cross the line in first place.
They scraped a draw with a late Carlos Tevez goal at Blackburn in the build-up to their trip to Stamford Bridge, which meant that Chelsea could level things up with a win over Ferguson's side.
Chelsea had also wobbled at Wigan but against United they showed the big-match fighting qualities of a champion.
United had taken 13 points from their five previous games against their 'big four' rivals.
But they chose to start without Ronaldo and lost Nemanja Vidic to injury, while Wayne Rooney, who has not finished on the losing side in the league this season, was taken off injured after levelling the scores at 1-1.
Chelsea's unbeaten run in the league coincided with the return of Michael Ballack and he illustrated his increasing influence with both goals, including a late penalty that decided the points.
Some of United's players were involved in a post-match fracas with Chelsea's groundstaff and a buoyant Grant stoked the fires by suggesting their opponents could choke.
Chelsea had erased the gap and only United's healthy goal difference stood between the sides with two games still to go.
So the title challenge headed into the month of May.
It was still United's to lose but there was no evidence of squeaky bum time as they comfortably saw off West Ham 4-1 at home.
However, Chelsea were looking increasingly refreshed as the season came to a close.
In a campaign in which they missed several key names through injury or African Nations Cup duty, they had all their big guns back in action for the closing stages.
1 MAN UTD Pld 38 Pts 87
2 CHELSEA Pld 38 Pts 85
3 ARSENAL Pld 38 Pts 83
4 LIVERPOOL Pld 38 Pts 76
Goals this season
Cristiano Ronaldo - 31 in 34
Fernando Torres - 24 in 33
Emmanuel Adebayor - 24 in 36
Didier Drogba - 8 in 19
Defeat at Newcastle would have handed the title to United but a routine 2-0 victory saw Grant's side take their challenge down to the last day.
United's final day opponents were Wigan - the only current Premier League side never to have taken a point off them.
Chelsea were at home to Bolton in a fixture they had only won once in the previous four meetings.
The final day was not to be without drama or controversy as Wigan proved good to their word in making United fight for the right to have a title party.
The Latics were denied a good penalty shout before a Cristiano Ronaldo spot-kick - his 31st in an astonishing league season - settled their nerves.
Chelsea went in front with half an hour left to play and at that stage a goal for Wigan would have bumped the Blues into pole position.
United veteran Ryan Giggs was the man to seal the deal with a second goal in the 80th minute.
Chelsea's hopes were done and dusted and as United began their celebrations at the JJB a 90th-minute equaliser from Matt Taylor deprived the London club a winning finish.
So the season ends in disappointment for Chelsea, as well as Liverpool and an Arsenal side that finished in third place with 83 points - a total good enough to win the title six out of the previous 12 years.
For United the win is the culmination of a season's hard work, that started poorly but ultimately had a happy ending.
But Chelsea do not even have to wait until next season for some revenge, with United their opponents in the Champions League final on 21 May.
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