Scholes steers Man Utd towards title
Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Hart used the words like an automatic reflex action to the mere mention of his name - an example.
Paul Scholes had just marked his 600th Manchester United appearance with a moment of under-stated brilliance that could easily have come from so many of his previous 599.
Manchester United were just fraying a little around the edges until Scholes produced a pass of perfect vision and flawless weight for Michael Carrick to wrap up a win over Portsmouth that edges the Salford-born midfield man closer to his ninth Premier League title.
Scholes was surrounded by United team-mates who appreciated the moment before he saw out time and departing back into the anonymity he craves.
Eight-goal classics may be all the rage these days, but experience has informed Scholes that unremarkable 2-0 wins do the job just as well, indeed they do it better, when it comes to the business of collecting silverware.
Scholes is very much his own man, so much so that even a force as strong as Ferguson admits he is unlikely to stop him carrying out his stated desire to retire at the end of next season.
And if you want further proof, here is a classic Scholes tale from the 2002 World Cup when England were preparing to face Argentina in Sapporo.
Scholes was asked to name his all-time favourite footballers by a heaving mob of Argentine journalists - who sat back and awaited the formal announcement of the name of their own hero, Diego Armando Maradona.
"Frankie Bunn" came the reply from a deadpan Scholes, to general mystification from the South American contingent.
The name of Oldham Athletic's striker had obviously not crossed over from Boundary Park to Buenos Aires, so for the avoidance of doubt Scholes cleared up any confusion by adding: "Scored six goals in a League Cup tie against Scarborough once."
He also gave a namecheck to former Oldham striker and latter-day manager Andy Ritchie as another of his boyhood heroes. Not familiar figures in Argentina but the sort of honest professionals that would have been right up Scholes' street when he looked for role models.
But that is Scholes, as was his modest wave of acknowledgement to the thunderous ovation he was given when his landmark was announced before kick-off. No fuss. No fanfare. No interest in personal glory.
Ferguson had prefaced this game by revealing that while every top club wanted Scholes, he has never received a single bid for him - confirmation of the basic facts that they all know United would never sell him and they all know Scholes would never leave.
He then proceeded to give another example of the reconstituted game Ferguson still believes serves him so well, culminating in that killer pass that eased the nerves and put United three points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand.
Scholes operates deeper these days and his goalscoring peak has admittedly past, but he can still knit it all together for United when they are struggling - and they needed knitting together after a vibrant opening became tense and laboured.
Portsmouth boss Hart was happy to set the disappointment of defeat aside when asked about Scholes: "It's not difficult for me talk about an opposition player in this instance because I use him as an example to every player I deal with, young and old.
"I tell kids to look at how he doesn't take liberties with the ball. Everything looks pretty perfect to me."
United's display was far from perfect, but in a game and an atmosphere that was a world away from the tumult of Liverpool's 4-4 draw with Arsenal, the result was all.
Liverpool arguably look a more driven and energetic side than United at present, but time is of the essence now and the champions are grinding out results as the games run down while their arch-rivals paid dearly for their recklessness on Tuesday.
In cricketing terms, Liverpool appear to want to reach their target by hitting every ball for six while United are happy to get them in singles.
Wayne Rooney was the bustling, all-action antithesis to the gliding Scholes, while another veteran Ryan Giggs also seemed to be defying the ravages of time - apart from his finishing.
There was an interesting cameo involving Dimitar Berbatov, not exactly persona non grata with United's supporters but certainly in bad odour after appearing in serious danger of nodding off when he walked up to take his dreadful penalty in the FA Cup semi-final defeat against Everton at Wembley.
The pre-match reading of his name was met with a wave of indifference, as was a late warm-up. Carlos Tevez, in contrast and on the night when he appeared to suggest he will be leaving Old Trafford, was afforded a splendid ovation.
A lesson here for Berbatov. United's fans rightly expect sweat to go alongside skill, which is why players like Scholes, Giggs and Rooney are so revered.
Having observed United regularly recently, they are not at the top of their game but now hold what could be a decisive lead in the title race.
This says much about the golden sequence of results they strung together through the middle part of the season and the resilience they have shown since defeats against Liverpool and Fulham.
If, as some have suggested with a measure of justification, they are now running on empty, they appear to have enough fumes to carry them over the finishing line.
And as they move towards that target, the experience gathered over 600 games by Scholes will be an invaluable guide.