Swedish champions Gothenburg had been beaten 4-2 at Old Trafford, while Sir Alex Ferguson's men returned to England from an intimidating trip to Istanbul and Galatasaray with a 0-0 draw.
It meant that a home victory over Barcelona 19 years ago today would have put them in pole position to qualify for the quarter-finals with three matches left to play.
This was not just any Barcelona side, though. This was an outfit that had been dubbed 'The Dream Team' - not only because of the 11 trophies that they had won under Johan Cruyff's guidance, but also the style in which they had achieved it.
Barca drew level before the break, though, as Romario darted beyond the United rearguard before slipping his low effort underneath an advancing Peter Schmeichel and into the net.
Having been caught unaware for the away side's first goal, Parker was also at fault for their second after the restart as he misjudged a Ronald Koeman cross from the right flank. Jose Maria Bakero took full advantage when having controlled the ball on his chest, he fired a half-volley beyond Schmeichel.
It prompted a positive response from United, who ensured that the spoils would be shared 10 minutes from time. Paul Ince picked out Roy Keane and the Irishman in turn drilled a cross into the Barca penalty area. Sharpe was first to react and was able to flick the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
When the sides met at Camp Nou two weeks later, United were on the wrong end of a 4-0 defeat, which proved crucial when it came to who would qualify for the knockout stages as runners-up. Gothenburg had won the group, but with Barca and United locked on six points, it was the Catalan giants that went through on goal difference.