Watching as Manchester City strove for perfection, for technical excellence, for an aesthetic quality so rare, even among the best, there was only one worthy comparison: Arsenal. Arsene Wenger's Arsenal. That was the team City were trying to emulate, the team that set the benchmark. Not just in one unbeatable season, but every time Wenger sent them out to play.
He did not always succeed, we know that. Wenger's flag on the summit of football's pinnacle is tattered and torn by time.
Yet when it first flew, we had seen nothing like his achievement, or at least his ambition. To win, every game, playing beautifully: that was his remit. It was an impossible dream, quite the hardest path for any coach, but Wenger would not compromise.
or this is what deserves to be remembered now. That a man arrived and changed English football. Not just by being the first foreign manager to win our league -- not by being a hired hand, hit and run and off to the next placement -- but by immersing himself in this football culture, by showing us something better, by challenging conventions and expectations, by looking up, not down.
Manchester City may beat all manner of records in the coming weeks, but on January 14 when they lost at Anfield, it ensured Wenger's Arsenal would remain the only Invincibles of the post- Victorian era. The standard against which all others must be judged, still. Even City; even Guardiola.
When you find an Arsenal fan in the US you know what they are about before talking to them. Arsene made that.