An 80 mile trip north of the M6 has often proved so futile for Villa - the club who holds the record of losing the second most games to Manchester United in top flight history.
In fact, it took 24 meetings and almost 4,000 total miles over 26 years for Villa to claim an illusive victory over United at Old Trafford in 2009.
It will be a decade, almost to the day when Gabriel Agbonlahor stooped in front of Nemanja Vidic to propel Martin O’Neill’s Villa to third place in the Premiership table. That particular historic win came ten years since Villa last managed a win over Ferguson’s men - with Julian Joachim, Ian Taylor and Steve Stone the goalscorers.
It’s been a decennial kind of occasion.
Villa closed the gap to five points between the eventual league runners up of 2010, but this season, only three points separate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from Dean Smith as Old Trafford awaits this coming Sunday.
It’s been a decade of respective upheaval for both clubs who have arguably been through the worst decade for a generation. United have totally lost ground on a title challenge, whilst Villa fell out the league in 2016 at, of all places… Old Trafford.
Three years later, Villa will visit Manchester with a fresh impetus having wiped debts, restored their place in the Premier League, and grown an organic faith in a club that seemed down and out only two summer’s ago. Hours away from administration, losing star players and an opportunity to get back in the division they fell out of three years prior, Man United have since failed to mount a credible attack on the Premier League title.
There’s now a rare sense of optimism that Villa can travel to Manchester United to contest three points without any fear or trepidation. The days of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney’s goals are now far behind Villa, who have suffered so mercifully in Stretford in the past.
Perhaps our very own Jack Grealish idolises the Manchester United graduate - boyhood fan, elegant nature and a cutting edge that only a school of excellence would be able to breed. Grealish can prove the tormentor to a United defence that hasn’t been breached too often this term, but Smith will want to put on a show at the theatre of dreams.
Declared by many as a managers dream, John McGinn will want to put on a show for his grandfather’s friend, Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s a hands off policy when it comes to McGinn, but Smith will want the Scotsman to show off in front to his legendary countryman.
Kieran Richardson, Joleon Lescott and Aly Cissokho all started in Villa’s last top flight visit to Old Trafford - you’d struggle to find a Villa fan with reasoning to include them in a Dean Smith matchday squad.
We’ve moved on, and will continue to pursue the upper echelons of the league and eventually European fronts in the future for as long as our an ambitious hierarchy of experience and wealth desire. Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens double the value pinned to the Glazer Family, that an estimated 4.7 billion.
The goal posts have moved. Tottenham and Leicester have both knocked Manchester United and Arsenal out the running for Champions League places. Chelsea and Manchester City the year before. In a decade, a lot can change in football. It’s a game for the ambitious and pioneering to force their way into contention for the elite titles and those sort after qualification places for European adventures.
For those chasing European places this season, Villa have faired well against Arsenal, Liverpool and for much of the game Tottenham and Manchester City, though no points have been taken from their competitive showings.
Villa travel to Old Trafford to contest the 187th meeting between these two since November 1892 for a 4:30 kick off this Sunday.