And it lived up to its billing if tense, tight and compact is your idea of unmissable. If you were after high-octane drama, I hear Coronation Street was quite good tonight.
But it was certainly captivating, that's for sure.
Oasis rang round the Etihad at full-time on the disembodied tannoy. The jubilation and europhia of the City fans broke the decibels limit. The roof removed itself from its bolts. The Premier League summit jilted in positions.
City are back on top. The noisy neighbours have roared back at their arch rivals on a night which the visitors did little to worry the hosts.
The early signs were that United, employing an obscure and slightly baffling team which included the industrious but unproductive Ji Sung Park and Nain, weren't prepared to let the blue half of Manchester get any nosier.
Ryan Giggs maximised the use of a short corner and Michael Carrick swivelled to shoot at goal. The frantic melee cleared. Just. If this was a sign of intent from United they didn't adhere to it.
David Silva had a shot from the left deflected for a corner. Carrick did well to disposes Silva of the ball and aimed the compass north for the running legs of Rooney. Boxed in, suffocated as if he was trapped, he could only earn a corner. He wasn't allowed to breathe for the rest of the game, too. Lescott and Kompany took it in turns to close Rooney down whenever he shielded in preparation on laying the ball off. Lescott was phenomenal. Kompany wasn't far behind on the match ratings scale.
But United were like chasing greyhounds, not giving the pursuer a moment's peace. Park and Giggs in particular pressing high.
Rooney dropped deep and right to collect possession, a managing to coax a costless kick out of Zabaleta. He was finding ways of eliciting the best out of poor service and constant pressure.
Nasri, hesitantly, advanced forward, threaded through Aguero who squared close to the by-line but Jones slid to clear. Contrary to Gary Neville's pre match analysis, it was Nasri of City who hugged the touchline - not Nani.
City pressed. They were in no rush. Ferdinand and Smalling kept the backdoor zipped up. Zabaleta carved space with Toure to whip in a cross. Smalling cleared, though.
Clichy accelerated forward and pass it off to the under Sergio Aguero who won a corner. From the ensuing corner, Aguero volleyed high - reminiscent of Sergio Ramos, not his watching father-in-law, Maradonna.
Toure shunned a window of opportunity shut on the half-way line and his shot-cum-pass found Nasri out wide but he couldn't deliver expertly. The architect Toure sprayed it out wide again to Nasri who crossed. Aguero’s execution in front of goal lacked the killing touch again - hooking straight at De Gea. If the Argentine was being examined on close ball control, he earned outstanding results but he didn't earn any commendations from Mancini - spending far too long on the all in the 18-yard-box following another Toure-dictated break.
City asserted their pressure with a succession of corners and patient build up. Kompany leapt highest from a Nasri corner, sending the ball into the roof of the net on the cusp of the interval. Advantage City.
United, briefly, took charge but the efficient Barry, Toure and City's defence withheld.
Zabaleta ran forward and Evra could only poke it out for another City corner. Lescott jumped to connect to Nasri's centre but Smalling rebuked. Nasri tried his luck from the left and Toure ran forward and shot. It zipped promisingly. It spun wide poorly. Scholes and Giggs were under the cosh. Time for Fergie to twist. Park was hauled off.
Aguero pirouetted but saw his effort blocked once more. De Jong was introduced to add more flavour to what was now becoming an intense and fiery encounter. Mancini and Fergie went at each other’s throats after a De Jong cruncher on fellow sub Welbeck. The hand gestures only signalled Fergie's concession of defeat.
Toure shot wide again. Ashley Young swung in a costless kick, but City's excellent defence remained in inexorable mood
Nasri played keep-ball yards out, marshalled closely by three United bodies. He didn't even muster a chance. Chance gone.
Rooney was finally allowed to register a chance in the last minute but he wasted it. United fans got ready to dish out the excuse book. City fans got ready to party even harder.