Seemingly, it was as much about a score settled as three points won.
Having been pick-pocketed at home by Manchester United F.C. just five weeks ago, Southampton repaid the favour with a Premier League stealth job at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Dusan Tadic secured Saints’ first league win at United for 27 years, but it was Southampton’s granite defence which neutered Louis van Gaal’s expensive strike-force.
Sure enough, while Van Gaal simmered, his Southampton counterpart and fellow Dutchman Ronald Koeman beamed.
The sense of poetic justice, and of satisfaction, was palpable as the Saints returned to the south coast.
“Remember the first game at home – that gave us the luck to win this game,” Koeman said. “That game was the inspiration.”
Back in December, Robin van Persie scored twice in a match Southampton had bossed, to steal the points.
Skipper Jose Fonte sang a similar tune to Koeman.
“At home against them we dominated and we should have won and we didn’t,” he told the Saints website.
“At Old Trafford we were clever and we did the job.”
The win nudged Southampton above United into third spot in the league with 39 points from their opening 21 matches, 10 behind leaders Chelsea.
United slipped a spot to fourth after their first defeat in 12 games. They have 37 points.
Sitting in third, Southampton strike an incongruous pose. In the last 13 seasons, only Bolton Wanderers of the so-called smaller teams have been perched so high after 21 matches.
Bolton aside, those top three spots have been occupied by just six heavyweight clubs at this stage of the season since 2002-03 — Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.