If I had a pound for the every time I have heard how Man United have won this season without playing well I would be a very rich man. Virtually every time they have won this season it has been from a 'below-par' showing with Tuesday's 2-1 at Stoke, which put them three points clear at the top, the latest example.
But the unconvincing nature of their performances, instead of pointing towards a weaker squad than in previous seasons actually shows just how good a team United are. You don’t go 20 games unbeaten, a Premier League run bettered only by the 2003/04 Arsenal ‘invincibles’ side, without being a very good side.
Well drilled by manager Sir Alex Ferguson they play with a fierce determination and will to win, which can over come many obstacles. Which in United's case is the sale and non-replacement of key players and the aging of established stars.
They also still have a squad full of match winners, who on their day can produce a moment of magic to seal a game. With Wayne Rooney rested against Stoke on Tuesday it was left for Nani to be the main man, curling home a beautiful effort from the edge of the area just after the hour.
It is this ability to grind out results that makes them such a threat in the title race. Main opponents Manchester City and Arsenal arguably have as many flair and creative players in their side if not more, but you get the impression that on a bad day they are less likely to scrape a result as United are. Chelsea looked just as ruthless early on this year, but their poor recent run has highlighted obvious flaws in their aging squad. Spurs are definite dark horses, but it remains to be seen whether they can last the pace. It's been a while since they were last in a title race after all.
But for United the run continues and if critics are right in claiming they haven’t played well this season, the rest of league better brace themselves for when they do.