Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has praised his side for their response to losing last season's Premier League title race.
United were denied a 20th top-flight crown on the final day of the campaign as arch rivals Manchester City claimed league honours following a thrilling finale.
But the Red Devils sit on the brink of reclaiming the title, holding a 15-point lead over second-placed City ahead of the sides' derby clash at Old Trafford on Monday.
Ferguson has praised his players for the way they responded to the last season's disappointment.
"We've improved," Ferguson told reporters. "That's been the difficulty for City. Even if their points tally was as good as it was this time last season, it wouldn't have matched ours anyway.
"So you have to give us credit for that: 25 wins out of 30 shows the conviction of the players' performance.
"The way we lost the title last season resonated with a lot of people in the club. The only thing you can do after that kind of thing is do better.
"That's what the players did. They've been focused, their team spirit has been terrific and there was a definite sense of purpose in terms of getting the title back.
"The important thing is the ability to recover and they've shown that. The players have achieved a lot this season. Their approach to winning the next match has been very positive."
The Scot also insisted that a repeat of City's famous 6-1 victory at Old Trafford last term was unlikely, and admitted he had never watched a replay of that game.
"No I'm not into self-flagellation," he added. "It happened, we threw it away, committed suicide in the game. But it'll be different this time."