The simple fact: Man Utd believed in its invincibility built up by its stunning performance against Arsenal, bolstered by the last moment goal by Barca which saved the champions from an embarrassing semi-final exit, and honed to perfection by the media drumbeat that they only had to show up to play for the inevitable anointment.
It was almost too perfect. While Barca had many questions to answer at the Nou camp after that near loss. Especially on defense. For the first time in a long time, we saw a Sir Alex side, poorly prepared with many players no shows. Where was Carrick and Anderson? Well, its all unraveling a bit. The club are worthy winners of every title there is including last year's best club in the whole wide world shout it out loud from the mountaintop status. However, this was not just a defeat, it was a stylistic showdown. Barca showed that the beautiful game still exists and it can win matches. With Xavi and Iniesta purring on the field, Man Utd's midfield looked like their shoes had been replaced with clogs.
There is nothing like defeat to measure self worth or open up questions. Their midfield remains in transition. Anderson has a long way to go before replacing Scholes adequately. The self centered Nani is a poor option for Giggs. Hargreaves is perpetually injured. Man Utd inherited that injury from Bayern. Carrick and Fletcher are very competent but cannot be considered world beaters by a mile. On attack, Berbatov struggles with consistency. Tevez remains in a strange twilight where the price has to be right. Rooney may define "total football" but he is being marginalized in his primary role. Van Der Saar may have a year or two left but who replaces him as Man Utd's sentinel is unclear. On defense, the right back spot has rotated between Wes Brown, Gary Neville, Rafael, and John O'Shea.
It should all be put in perspective. Man Utd have a soul searching off season to answer these questions but they are still good enough to repeat their domestic success with this squad. It is true, in football we always ask for the level. Are they at the level to reach the top? It is a question that has dogged Liverpool and Arsenal for many years now in the Premiership. Well, Man Utd came off second best on one of the biggest nights in football. It maybe a while before they win another CL.