After all, during the previous season the Red Devils had ran riot courtesy of a 7-1 win over their Roman counterparts, while the 2007 group encounters between the two sides ended with United collecting four points from a possible six.
However, the hosts appeared to be determined to break that negative sequence of results during the first leg six years ago today as they made all the early running in the Italian capital.
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Their failure to convert those chances was duly punished six before the break. Paul Scholes stood a cross up towards the back post and despite appearing to be the second favourite to win the ball, Cristiano Ronaldo rose highest to power a downward header beyond the reach of Doni for his 36th goal of a prolific campaign.
The response was positive from Roma, but once again Vucinic was guilty of wasting an opening from close range, before he saw a second-half flicked header acrobatically turned to safety by United's veteran Dutch keeper.
Then, just as they had done during the first 45 minutes, the Premier League visitors made the most of their opportunity. Wes Brown's long pass forward was kept alive by Park Ji-Sung, who managed to head to ball across the face of the Roma goal. Wayne Rooney reacted quicker to the loose ball than Doni to prod his shot in from inside the six-yard box.
It was a goal that seemingly knocked the stuffing out of the Serie A outfit and it was United that went closest to scoring the game's third goal. First Ronaldo struck the post with an effort from distance, then central midfielder Michael Carrick sent a shot inches wide of the target from 20 yards out.
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"We can't take anything for granted, but we definitely feel like we can reach the semi-finals," said winning manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "It was a marvellous result. We showed discipline and composure on the ball.
"Ronaldo's goal changed the game for us. It was a fantastic header. His spring and courage to go in front of the defender surprised the Roma player. It was a centre forward's header - it reminded me of myself."
Meanwhile, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti added: "They were lucky on their scoring chances. They have players of very high quality, but we've got to react after what happened and reverse the situation. We've scored twice away before in the Champions League."
ROMA: Doni; Cassetti, Mexes, Panucci, Tonetto (Cicinho); De Rossi, Aquilani (Esposito), Taddei (Giuly), Pizarro, Mancini; Vucinic
MAN UNITED: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic (O'Shea), Evra; Carrick, Scholes, Anderson (Hargreaves), Ronaldo, Park; Rooney (Tevez)