Giggs is Manchester United's shining knight
"Arise Sir Ryan Giggs" read a small banner tucked away in one of the quieter corners of Stoke City's thunderous Britannia Stadium.
And the current Knight of Old Trafford will be in no mood to argue after another emphatic demonstration of the class and composure contained within the Premier League's most enduring talent.
Sir Alex Ferguson introduced Giggs after finally tiring of Nani's posturing and lack of end product, and within minutes the gulf between the pretender and the consummate professional ensured Manchester United's superiority counted for something in Saturday's 2-0 win at Stoke.
Giggs showed the man he replaced that football is essentially a simple game made complicated by players like Nani - making two goals by allowing Dimitar Berbatov and John O'Shea to apply the finishing touches to a hugely-convincing United performance that meant normal service was resumed at the Premier League summit.
And if United's fans were sending a message to those who deliver the honours list to Buckingham Palace, it was nowhere near as resounding as that sent by the champions to those hoping to strip them of their crown.
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis toned down the scale of his side's task by claiming in his programme notes that it would be "hard, bloomin' hard" to unseat United.
It was much bloomin' harder than even Pulis thought as, on tough territory regarded as an accurate measure of the resilience and character in any team with title pretensions, United made it as joyless an afternoon as Stoke have endured on home turf since they returned to the Premier League.
Stoke were at least hanging on to the precipice by their fingertips until Giggs emerged early in the second half. For starters he sent an open invitation to Berbatov to slide home a simple first then provided the free-kick for O'Shea's late header.
Pulis, magnanimous in defeat and fully accepting of United's class, described Giggs and his old partner in glory Paul Scholes as "great players and great professionals. Scholes was the best player on the pitch by a country mile," he noted.
It was Giggs, however, whose mixture of subtlety and simplicity actually made the difference. He showed again that while the searing burst of pace that illuminated most of his career has dimmed now, there is still no substitute for maturity and simple football common sense within Ferguson's template for success.
Giggs is the shining example to every player in the Premier League. Eleven Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Uefa Champions League winner's medals as well as the PFA player of the year award in 2009 plus two PFA young player awards and still no sign of his hunger diminishing.
On the contrary, Giggs seems inspired by a force that accompanies the realisation that his career is inevitably nearing its conclusion. He does not want to miss an opportunity to add further honours, despite his current status as the domestic game's most decorated individual.
If Nani is to fulfil his potential, he should keep Giggs in his eyeline for as long as his glorious Old Trafford career continues. Stoke's fans taunted Nani with chants of "You'll Never Be Ronaldo" in reference his Portugal team-mate Cristiano, now departed from Old Trafford.
And they were spot on. There is undoubtedly a good player lurking inside Nani trying to get out, but the impression is that he is spending too much time attempting to be Ronaldo rather than himself. Giggs should be his guide.
It is a tribute to Giggs's longevity that how long he can maintain this rich vein of form, he is 36 in November, will play a major part in shaping United's season. He is a credit to himself, Manchester United and the game he has graced since making his debut against Everton in March 1991.
The flip side of the coin says it may be a concern that United are still leaning heavily on one of the game's elder statesmen, but Giggs starts every season refreshed and appears to have an almost insatiable lust for success.
This was an ominous afternoon for those - and at this point it is only right to deliver a reminder that I predicted a third-placed finish for United in the Premier League this season - seeking cracks in the Old Trafford power base, especially post-Ronaldo.
Back to Pulis's programme notes, where he congratulated Stoke's fans for "making the Britannia such a horrible place for visiting teams." They did their best - this is wonderful arena to sample the Premier League experience - but United were oblivious to the cacophony that accompanies proceedings before and during the game.
It was horrible, but not in the way Stoke wanted as they were ultimately outclassed. You could even hear yourself think after about 20 minutes, a sure sign that something is not quite right at the Britannia.
United negated any possible impact Stoke's full-on physical approach, laced with a measure of skill it should be stressed, may have had by refusing to let them have the ball.
John O'Shea scored United's second to end Stoke's hopes
Pulis's men spent most of the game pushed back into their own territory and the only obstacle standing between United and three points was their own flawed final ball. Giggs provided that and the formalities were complete.
I asked Pulis whether United had dealt with Stoke as comfortably at home as any side since they won promotion back to the top flight and he said: "We have had a couple of games like that, but it is the first time this year we haven't given it a right good go.
"They are an outstanding side with outstanding players. You have to take into account who we were playing against and United were just excellent. I sensed even in the first 10 minutes that we were very flat."
Very flat is not a phrase normally associated with Stoke City or their supporters, but that is what they were reduced to by Manchester United's excellence.
And Stoke's hopes of getting at United goalkeeper Ben Foster, exposed by poor judgement and questionable positioning in the Manchester derby, failed to get off the ground as they were starved of possession in any areas of danger.
I still feel United will need more creativity from central midfield and the flanks as the season progresses and may find it more difficult to retain the title than they have in recent times, thus claiming a fourth successive Premier League.
But a trip to Stoke is first and foremost an examination of mental and physical strength even before you earn the right to exert your greater quality.
United passed every test with top marks and this triumph, placed alongside victories against Arsenal and Manchester City and a high-quality win at Spurs, has taken some of the wind out of the sails of those looking for even the slightest vital signs of decline.
I still have my suspicions over the course of an entire season, even moreso in Europe than in domestic combat, but this was compelling evidence to support the theory that writing off Manchester United remains one of sports most dangerous occupations.
This was impressive stuff and a clear signal of intent to their rivals. When they have a player like Giggs who shares that same hunger and drive as the manager who has guided his career, then continued success will always be on the Old Trafford agenda.
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