LONDON May 26 – Manchester United are seeking to banish the memory of their 2009 humbling by Barcelona as they prepare for Saturday's Champions League final at Wembley.
Two years ago, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side arrived in Rome brimming with confidence, ready to justify their status as the bookies’ favourites by becoming the first side to clinch back-to-back titles.
Ninety minutes and one passing masterclass later, and United were left dazed and confused after a dizzying evening on Barcelona’s famous midfield "carousel" as the Catalans wrapped up a 2-0 win.
Ferguson has never spoken in detail about the reasons for United’s defeat that night, and his reluctance to reflect on that chastening loss has been mirrored by his players ahead of Saturday’s re-match.
Midfielder Michael Carrick, whose reputation took a battering after an anonymous performance in the Stadio Olimpico, insisted that 2009 would have little relevance at Wembley.
"It doesn’t matter about 2009 to be honest," Carrick said. "It’s a different game now. It’s a one-off so we’re concentrating on Saturday.
"We’ll play to our strengths and try and win the game. You’ve got to respect the strengths that Barcelona have because they’re a terrific team but we’re there for a reason as well.
"We believe we’ve got a very good team. When we play well and do what we’re good at we’re a match for anyone. As I said, it’s all on the night and who plays best on the night."
Defender Rio Ferdinand said he had never dwelt on Barcelona’s decisive second goal in Rome, when he was left in no man’s land by a wicked cross from Xavi which was duly headed home by Lionel Messi.
Asked if he had ever wondered how the diminutive Messi had managed to leap highest, Ferdinand’s response was emphatic: "No. It was a great cross and a great header.
"Looking back, you don’t want to watch those kind of goals going in, you don’t want to watch any goals going in," Ferdinand said.
"This time hopefully it will be a different result."
United striker Michael Owen had not joined by the time of the 2009 final, but the former England international confirmed the subject had been off limits amongst his team-mates.
"We try not to speak about it much to be honest because you don’t want any negative thoughts going through your mind before this game," Owen said.
"We’re focusing on what we do best, how we can play against them and not really looking back.
"There’s a few players changed since then. It’s a different time, a different venue.
"I mean if you were to look back on that game, the first 15 minutes we were outstanding. If we’d scored then it might have been a different game. We’ve got to make sure we do score on Saturday."