Sir Alex Ferguson is confident Manchester United will win any legal fight with Gabriel Heinze over his proposed move to Liverpool.
It has now been confirmed that Heinze has employed a team of lawyers to investigate whether United are right to block a transfer to Anfield, even though Reds boss Rafael Benitez has met the £6.8million asking price for the 29-year-old.
The shock move effectively renders his Old Trafford future untenable.
Yet United are sticking to their guns in refusing to let Heinze become the first player to switch between the bitter north-west rivals since Phil Chisnall moved to Merseyside in 1964.
And, having ordered Heinze to be back in training on August 6, Ferguson has made it clear he expects the Argentina international to meet the deadline.
'We are aware Gaby is taking legal advice,' confirmed the United boss.
'That is good. I hope it is good advice because we are confident of our position.
'He is due back in training on August 6, which gives him three clear weeks' rest after the Copa America. And we expect him back in training a week on Monday.'
The deadline effectively gives Heinze's lawyers a week to find out if the former Paris St Germain defender has a case, which revolves around whether a letter, signed by chief executive David Gill, confirming the figure United would be prepared to sell Heinze for, overrides the player's contract, which still has two years to run.
Gill claims he informed Heinze's agent verbally, prior to Liverpool revealing their interest, that United would not be prepared to sell him to any of their three major domestic rivals; a discussion which is thought was recorded and could therefore, in theory, be used as part of any defence the Red Devils may wish to put forward in court.
The extraordinary prospect of United being sued by one of their own players has added a dramatic twist at the end of what has largely been a productive four-game Far East tour.
Heinze has been the subject of interest from overseas, with Real Madrid and Inter Milan among the clubs to express an interest.
But, the huge Spanish-speaking influence at Liverpool, plus an opportunity to remain in the north-west, appears to have an irresistible lure for the player.
After pinning much of the blame for the present situation on Heinze's agents, Ferguson must now accept the defender is also a prime mover.
After hailing the 2004 Olympic champion a hero, the tide of supporter goodwill is almost certain to turn against Heinze. Even if he remains at Old Trafford, it is difficult to see him being involved when the champions open the defence of their Premier League crown against Reading on August 12.
At least Ferguson has other, more positive, thoughts to occupy his mind as United head back to England tonight.
Aside from confirming an injury to Ryan Giggs which kept him out of the 3-0 win over Guangzhou Pharmaceutical was minor and that Cristiano Ronaldo did not start purely as a result of a stubbed toe, Ferguson said he also expects Owen Hargreaves to be able to play a full part in training on Tuesday.
In addition, he was able to enthuse about the performance of Nani, his £17million summer purchase from Sporting Lisbon.
After shrugging off an ankle injury suffered during the European Under-21 Championships, the teenage Portugal international made a goalscoring contribution to United's final two games on tour.
This evening's effort was a brilliant chip to the far post and having heeded Ferguson's advice to cut out the elaborate back-flip goal celebrations, Nani is clearly a quick learner.
And provided he soaks up a few lessons over the next fortnight, the 19-year-old could be an influential figure in United's pursuit of glory this term.
'We are trying to give him the football, mixed with a training programme that gets him up to our level,' said Ferguson.
'He is nowhere near that at the moment. But there are good signs. Some of his skill and speed at times is quite impressive.
'Scoring two goals in two games is a good start but I do think you will see a different player in two weeks' time.'
Wayne Rooney and Lee Martin were also on target but there was no goal on home soil for Dong Fangzhuo, while Alan Smith did not make much impression either.
With United remaining confident Carlos Tevez will arrive before the August 31 transfer deadline, it is difficult to see Smith hanging around much longer as he falls further down the pecking order and it just appears a question of time before he moves on.