Manchester United warmed up for their reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo by marching 12 points clear in the Premier League title race courtesy of a 2-0 home victory over Everton.
Even with Jose Mourinho watching on, Real Madrid seemed to be the last thing on United minds as Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie scored the first-half goals that were enough to see off a dogged visiting side.
Giggs has now scored in a remarkable 23 successive league seasons, yet another milestone in an unparalleled career.
For Van Persie, it was the 23rd goal of a sensational debut campaign.
Yet both men were more focused on the fight to be champions for the 20th time, of which Giggs would be a factor in 13, and Van Persie, finally, one.
Earlier, Aston Villa moved out of the bottom three as second-half goals from Christian Benteke and Charles N'Zogbia earned them a 2-1 victory over West Ham at Villa Park.
Benteke broke the deadlock from the penalty spot with his 15th goal of the campaign and N'Zogbia made the points safe with a superb free-kick.
Ashley Westwood's late own-goal could not prevent Villa's first win in nine league games and ended a run of four successive home league defeats.
Paul Lambert's side also looked more secure in defending set-pieces than in recent games with Ciaran Clark impressive and this was a vital three points for the midland club ahead of successive matches away to Arsenal and at home to Manchester City.
But West Ham have now lost five successive away games and are in danger of being sucked towards the relegation zone.