Graeme Souness has sent a stark warning to Manchester United.
It was a testing Saturday afternoon for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad as they were humbled by Aston Villa as neighbours Manchester City issued a genuine statement of intent to their Premier League rivals with victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool were, too, held to a 3-3 draw following a thrilling encounter with promoted Brentford.
If that is a sign of things to come, the race for the title - and top four - will have fans on the edge of their seats until the final day of the season.
According to Souness, though, City, Liverpool and Chelsea are so far clear that United might have to look over their shoulder at Arsenal or Tottenham.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the north London derby, pundit and former Liverpool player Souness said: "When you look at the four big teams, Manchester teams, Liverpool, Chelsea, I think three of them are so far from the rest.
"Right now, they're so far ahead of the rest.
"I think Man United will flirt with success this year when it comes to April or May time, it'll be three left in the fight and, for everyone else, it'll be a long old road to catch them up.
"When you look at investment, Man City, Chelsea and Man United have and Liverpool are in great shape.
"I think it'll be a long way back for the two north London teams looking at them and the direction they're going in."
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