United came into the match knowing that they had to beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and then hope for an upset as City hosted relegation-threatened QPR.
Sir Alex Ferguson began with Wayne Rooney as the lone front man, but supported by Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young on the flanks.
And it was a cross from out wide that led to United's opener after 20 minutes. Phil Jones, forward form right-back, swung in a cross from deep that was allowed to bounce and travel all the way through to Rooney at the back post, who had the simplest of tasks to head home from close range.
Rooney had a golden opportunity to put United 2-0 up later in the first period. But the England international somehow missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.
As United comfortably held on for the 1-0 victory, it appeared that the Red Devils would soon be celebrating. When the final whistle blew City were still drawing 2-2 against QPR, a result that would see United crowned champions.
But as they waited for a signal that the party could begin, news came through that City had grabbed a late, late winner to snatch the title back from United's grasp.
When the dust settles on a dramatic Premier League season, Ferguson will know that his side contributed massively to their own downfall after letting an eight-point lead slip in the closing weeks. And it is the 4-4 draw with Everton that will haunt the celebrated Scot most.