Manchester City sweep all before them as Manchester United flop adds to celebrations
No matter what they tell you now, when the Premier League season began in August, Manchester City fans did not believe their team would walk to their third title in seven campaigns. Of course, there had been some pretty good displays throughout their preseason tour of the USA, but nothing had indicated the level at which the team would break records in the months that would follow.
As the supporters celebrate the latest crown, they are able to look back on a season that has far exceeded expectations -- even taking into accounts the disappointments felt at eliminations in the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Some have suggested that run of defeats should eliminate City from the running when it comes to comparing the best ever Premier League teams. That would be foolhardy, especially if they can finish the season so strongly that they score more goals and earn more points than anyone has managed in its 26-year history.
City's achievements far outshine their set-backs and this is the case of a campaign that has been so dominant that it's a brand new type of joy for the majority of the club's fans.
It's 81 years since City won the top flight with games to spare. The fifth title comes in the same manner as that first in 1937 -- the rest were all clinched on the final day of the campaign. It equalled a Premier League milestone set by Manchester United in 2001, as City are unable to be caught and there are still five fixtures to play.
Fans many have been in the unusual position of wanting United to have beaten West Brom on Sunday instead of succumbing to a 1-0 defeat. Normally, a comically poor performance and result against the side well off the pace at the bottom of the table would have been the source of amusement, but in this instance some thought it would be a shame for Pep Guardiola's team to be crowned champions while the boss was out golfing and while the fans were sat on their sofas instead of inside the Etihad.
When it became reality, though, the truth is few cared. While it was the tipping point, United's result wasn't the reason City won the league -- that was down to the eight months of exhilarating football the champions played.
It was down to the phenomenal 93 strikes to have hit the net this season, more than any team has managed in a complete campaign since Manuel Pellegrini managed the club to a tally of 102 in 2014, when they also won the league. Between now and the end of the season, you'd expect that total, along with Chelsea's record of 103 in 2010, is well within Guardiola's sights.
It was also down to a record-breaking run of 18 straight wins that ran from a 2-1 victory at Bournemouth in August to a 1-0 success over Newcastle the following December, ending in a goalless draw at Crystal Palace. If a team can put that sort of incredible sequence together, don't let anybody tell you that it was Jay Rodriguez's header that was the crucial moment in the season.
Clinching the title without playing just means that City have done the heavy lifting in the weeks and months beforehand. They've been sensationally good and have ended up coming out the other side of their worst week of the season by wrapping up the league.
Having been disappointed by the performance in the Champions League exit to Liverpool, either side of losing 3-2 in the Manchester derby, City could have been like rabbits in the headlights against Tottenham at Wembley. Spurs, a team that have seemed to have some sort of voodoo hold over the club in the past, are not an ideal opponent for Guardiola, especially when the squad is feeling a little fragile.
Yet they waltzed around Wembley like they owned the place, quickly rifling into a two-goal lead and holding out under pressure when the hosts dragged it back to 2-1. Despite the best Spurs efforts to level it up, City's defending was resolute, not allowing a second-half shot at Ederson's goal until very late, and their counter-attacking was on point to earn the 3-1 victory.
All of that without key players in Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero, too.
Of course, nobody expected West Brom would get a result at Old Trafford. It was the cut-adrift against the best-of-the-rest. So when it happened, there were United fans that tried to console themselves by suggesting it would have upset their rivals to have been denied a victory in the derby and then denied the chance to finish the job on their own ground against Swansea.
City have been there and done it, when they snatched the title from United's hands with Aguero's late winner in the 3-2 victory over QPR in 2012. They've also finished the job calmly on the final day of the season, beating West Ham 2-0 at the Etihad in 2014.
This is a new type of title win for the vast majority of City's fans. This is utter domination from week one, their team comprehensively better than everybody else in the top flight. Nobody is disappointed the coronation happened because United lost a game -- it only happened because City have been awesome.
David Mooney is ESPN FC's Manchester City blogger. Twitter: @DavidMooney