What makes Ferguson great?
The fires burning inside Sir Alex Ferguson still rage intensely into his 70th year and the emotions stirred by a Champions League final against Barcelona at the scene of Manchester United's first European Cup triumph only serves to fan the flames.
Ferguson will not just want to set a record straight on Saturday by avenging Barcelona's comprehensive victory in Rome two years ago, he will want to fulfil what he sees as United's destiny by repeating Sir Matt Busby's landmark triumph at Wembley in 1968.
Ferguson shows no sign of losing an insatiable appetite for success that saw United eclipse Liverpool's domestic record by winning a 19th league title and now sees him taking a tilt at claming a third Champions League crown in his 25 years at the club.
A character of contrasts, capable of considerable acts of kindness but also ruthless in protecting his and United's turf and reputation, the Scot has expertly navigated football's ever-changing landscape while maintaining an unprecedented level of success.
So what has made Ferguson the man many regard as the greatest manager in the history of the game?
The differing shades to Ferguson's personality can be illustrated by two incidents involving the media, an opponent he is always happy to confront with great relish.
During United's media day on Tuesday, Ferguson was captured on microphones threatening to ban a journalist - "we'll get him, we'll ban him on Friday" - for offering up a perfectly acceptable question about recent headlines surrounding Ryan Giggs.
Ferguson takes issue with reporter's question about Ryan Giggs
Several reporters have suffered bans for perceived insubordination down the years. Yet there is another side to Ferguson. He recently took the time to send a personal letter to a journalist who was leaving his post after 36 years of service.
Graham Taylor, an opponent of Ferguson as manager of Watford and Aston Villa, recognises the attributes that have made the Scot such a success story.
"He was the hardest manager I ever had to deal with when I was in charge of England but there was - and is - a mutual respect there," Taylor told me. "He was fighting for what he wanted and so was I, so our paths did cross.
"Like all successful people - and this applies to football managers - there are these two sides to them. I recall the time we wanted to set up the League Managers' Association when I was in charge of England. I felt managers needed this and so I went to Alex to ask if he was prepared to sit on the committee. He was very willing and still sits on the committee. It shows his commitment and his caring side. But, as with any successful person, there is more than one side to them. Alex is well known for what he does for charity but if you cross him you will be cut off his list."
Taylor is full of admiration for Ferguson and his achievements.
"Jose Mourinho may be known as 'The Special One' but if anyone deserves that title it is Ferguson," said Taylor. "He is far more entitled to the tag than Mourinho. I can't see anyone matching Ferguson's record in management. Yes, other clubs might win titles and honours but they will do it with different managers. He is the best. Anyone who denies that is living in a dream world.
"Alex has established Manchester United as the top club. When you look at the amount of trophies he has won over such a long and successful career, there is no-one who can tell me he is not the best manager there has been. His record is there in trophies."
Taylor was at Watford when Ferguson arrived at Manchester United after success at Aberdeen. The Scot had steered the Dons to victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup final against Real Madrid in 1983 but struggled in his early days at Old Trafford. Taylor recalls a moment when he realised that Ferguson was a force that would not go away, even when times were tough.
"I remember us playing United over the Christmas holiday and beating them very convincingly at Villa Park," said Taylor. "Alex came in for a drink afterwards. I remember seeing this man and thinking he looked worried but what I also saw - and recall to this day - was that he had a glint in his eye.
"It was a look that said he was not going to walk away or collapse under pressure. I'm not saying for a minute I could see what was going to eventually happen but there was that undoubted glint that told you that this was a man to be reckoned with.
"I think it is a character trait that has kept him going for so long. Things change with the times - and he has changed. But there are also basic principles that have served him so well. It is an awareness of the discipline and professionalism that is required in the game. And I don't just mean on the pitch. I mean away from the game, too. You never see Manchester United's players anything other than immaculately turned out. It is a state of mind and that comes from the manager. It has to."
Part of Ferguson's magic has been to move with the times but also retain the old values forged in his upbringing in Govan.
"He is a remarkable man," said Taylor. "As well as winning things, he has been able to develop a fatherly - and now grandfatherly, with all due respect - approach to the lads at Old Trafford. He gets to know their parents and the families. In turn, they know he is somebody who cares.
"Your hear talk about the so-called 'hairdryer' but that is hardly ever used now. Alex knows very well that, in this day and age, if you give someone the 'hairdryer' they might walk out or they will be so frightened they won't be able to play well.
"He knows he's dealing with lads who have been brought up differently in the last decade and part of his great skill has been his ability to adapt to those changes. You won't get so much out of people by simply shouting at them."
One of those with intimate knowledge of the methods used by Ferguson to sustain success is Rio Ferdinand, who has been at United for nine years and will be a key figure against Barcelona on Saturday.
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"He has been, and is, a fantastic manager and nothing that happens on Saturday will change that," said Ferdinand. "Defeat still hurts him as much as anybody else but nothing suppresses his true desire to win. He has been meticulous in his preparation for this game but he is always the same."
Michael Owen arrived late to Ferguson's tutelage but has still had time to marvel at the way he is a moderniser as well as determined to retain his founding principles.
"He's been manager here for 25 years," said Owen. "It's amazing how he has moved with the times, been so open-minded to new ideas, implemented different things, how he delegates to different people yet still have everything in control. He's got a million and one things in his armoury that has enabled him to get where he is now."
And perhaps a touch mellower? Owen reveals he may be. "When I say after a game 'he wasn't happy there' some of the lads say 'you should have seen him 10 years ago'."
Taylor goes back a lot longer than 10 years with Ferguson and is convinced he can add another trophy to his roll of honour at Wembley on Saturday.
"United got a footballing lesson from Barcelona two years ago," said Taylor. "They were not exactly treated with contempt but they played them off the pitch.
"People have had a go at United for their away form - and at times maybe they haven't had the flair that they have been associated with in the past - but they are committed, well-organised and disciplined. I think this team has a better chance of beating Barcelona than in 2009 because of the very things people are criticising them for.
Win or lose against Barcelona on Saturday, Ferguson will be back for more next season as a manager and man who divides opinions but whose record or success and legacy at Manchester United will never be in question.