Richard Buxton: Not much room for Manchester United to manoeuvre
Their Champions League spot is in danger after a last-gasp 2-2 draw with Saints
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains the master of conjuring up late goals.
Manchester United's baby-faced assassin built an entire career around last-gasp heroics and is continuing the trend in the Old Trafford hot seat, albeit in an embarrassing reverse.
Slipping to a 2-2 home draw with Southampton yesterday morning (Singapore time) left the 20-time English champions facing an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League.
For the Red Devils, the current circumstances have become a personal hell; Liverpool's long-awaited reign as English Premier League champions is now in the procession phase while Manchester City's successful overturning of a two-year European ban hampers their own prospects.
A potential exile from the continental elite for Pep Guardiola's side had afforded United some room for manoeuvre. Finishing fifth would have been enough for Solskjaer to sneak a backdoor entry into next season's Champions League at his rivals' expense.
But the Court of Arbitration for Sport's ruling changed everything. Coasting over the finish line is no longer an option for the Norwegian, despite his team racking up an 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson's reign.
Solskjaer's infatuation with his former mentor extended to United naming an unchanged starting line-up for a fifth consecutive league game - a feat last achieved 27 years ago.
They are still a far cry from the unparalleled dominance which Ferguson once oversaw.
Standards have clearly slipped. They had drawn just one of their previous 519 EPL home games after shipping an equaliser at the death.
Michael Obafemi's header in the sixth minute of stoppage time condemned Solskjaer to a second in this season alone.
Holding a precarious lead for more than two-thirds of a game would not have been considered a cause for concern with Ferguson's well-drilled charges, yet his modern successor has shown that defensive fragility looms large at the Theatre of Dreams.
Set-pieces have become kryptonite to David de Gea and his backline, as further underlined by the Saints in James Ward-Prowse's delivery for Obafemi to convert.
Far too often, the Spain international is guilty of appearing hesitant when dealing with challenging balls and retains a free pass as United's first-choice goalkeeper - purely due to the absence of viable alternatives to take his place.
A lack of planning continues to prove a recurring theme in the post-Ferguson era, culminating in Solskjaer unconvincingly being installed as manager permanently.
If they fail to qualify for the Champions League, the clock needs to start ticking on him, too.
United's run-in, coupled with this setback, does not inspire great confidence that they will be able to pip both Chelsea and Leicester City to the post.
None of the trio have covered themselves in glory during Project Restart, yet Solskjaer's players had gained an upper hand by putting together a largely credible set of results.
They seem to have an easy run-in in their remaining three EPL games, but even Friday morning's trip to Crystal Palace, where their unbeaten record dates back to 1991, now carries a rare uncertainty.
It's the same for next week's visit of a resurgent West Ham United, who had beaten Chelsea since the league's resumption.
A finale with the Foxes at the King Power Stadium, however, is where United's European dream could rest.
Otherwise, they would have to win the Europa League to book their spot.
Solskjaer can only hope Brendan Rodgers' team remain more inconsistent than his own.