Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini said last week nobody wins the title in February.

Well, this season they do. A 12- point gap with 12 games to go is one that this Manchester United will NOT let slip. In all likelihood they will probably stretch it.

Their 12th win in 14 league games is the sign of a relentless force with huge momentum.

One they will take into the Bernabeu on Wednesday night when we can really judge where this team can be put in the pantheon of Manchester United sides.

Manager Alex Ferguson had said he would play two different teams for yesterday’s game with Everton and the Clash of the Titans against Real Madrid.

But unless he leaves out Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie for that meeting with the Spanish giants, that will not be the case.

Despite City’s dramatic capitulation at the hands of Southampton the night before, Ferguson wanted to make sure that United’s healthy advantage was extended.

Last season hurt too much for him to run any risk of a repeat. So none were taken.

Van Persie scored yet again, his 23rd in 30 games for United. So did Ryan Giggs, 39, who got the opener. He has now scored in the league in each of his 23 seasons.

The star, however, was Rafael. The Brazilian, 22, who has been tipped by Ferguson to become the best full-back in Europe one day.

He is already well on his way. He is so much more than a defender too. Just witness how Wayne Rooney deferred to him to play the brilliantly-weighted through ball for Van Persie’s goal.

That strike right on half-time made up for an uncharacteristic miss from the Dutchman in the very first action of this game after just 10 minutes.

Rafael brilliantly brought a high ball down and flicked it off to Rooney in one movement. Rooney slid a pass through for Van Persie to round Tim Howard only to then hit a post from an angle.

He made amends on 13 minutes by teeing up Giggs for the opener.

Rafael served up a ball downfield for Antonio Valencia to nod on.

Van Persie was on to it and pulled the ball back for the Welsh wizard to touch the ball with his left foot on to his right and slide a shot in off an upright.

Everton rallied, though, and Leon Osman’s volley was kept out only by a fine save from De Gea.

The visitors fired balls into the box to rattle the Spanish goalkeeper, whose punches had varying degrees of success.

Then just as the board was being raised to show a minute of injury time, Van Persie pounced.

Rooney laid the ball off to Rafael, who had moved into a central position and his pass with the outside of his boot split the Everton defence.

Ferguson had just vented his fury at the linesman for flagging the Dutchman offside a moment earlier.

This time the flag stayed down and this time after rounding Howard, Van Persie found the net.

United were closest to adding to the scoreline in the second-half and would have done so but for former United goalkeeper Howard’s reactions.

First he made a terrific double stop from Jonny Evans, blocking his header and follow-up shot.

Then he took to the air to produce a fingertip save to deny Tom Cleverley’s scorching volley.

The two-goal lead still was not enough for Ferguson.

After all it was not enough last season when they were coasting at 4-2 with eight minutes to go only to draw a game that the boss claimed cost them the title.

So this time he was down in his technical area, shouting and pointing and looking agitated.

And even more so when Nikica Jelavic broke through and forced a full-length save out of De Gea. But this time United’s lead remained intact.

The watching Real boss Jose Mourinho had seen a solid United who had opened up Everton with deadly efficiency.

The mouth now waters at the prospect of Wednesday’s match.

Towards the end of this game the Stretford End cried ‘Fergie give us a wave’ and he responded to great cheers.

Acclaim for the man now steering them to a 20th league title and his 13th with the Red Devils.

Fergie only ever loans the Premier League trophy out, because he always gets it back.

In his programme notes, the United boss referred to ‘a two- horse race’ for the title.

But already the other one has gone lame while the one in Red colours breaks into a gallop.

Unless United are planning the sort of collapse that would take Devon Loch out of the record books, this race is as good as over.