Alex Ferguson has not been able to name his first-choice central defenders in the same team together since the end of October but had been expecting to rectify that against West Ham on Tuesday night.
But, while Vidic put in what keeper Ben Foster claimed was a man-of-the-match performance for Manchester United in a 3-0 win that allowed them to close the gap on title favourites Chelsea, Ferdinand did no better than board the team bus.
His journey to Old Trafford was purely to pick up his car before driving home to reflect on a recurrence of his long-standing back problem that would appear certain to cost Ferdinand the chance of captaining England next week.
While Ferguson was not asked about Ferdinand’s chances of facing Egypt at Wembley on Wednesday, he has already ruled him out of Sunday’s Carling Cup final and stated the 31-year-old will be out for “a couple of games” at least.
With Ferdinand missing again, Vidic’s return is important.
And the defender, about whose future so much has been written recently, is glad to be back.
“It is nice to be back,” said the Serbian, who was making his first appearance of 2010 after suffering a nerve problem in his leg.
“This year has been very frustrating. When I finished last season, I thought this one would be even better.
“But I missed pre-season, then had this injury and have been out for another two months recently.’’
Quite apart from Wayne Rooney, whose brace on Tuesday took him to 27 goals for the season – only 15 fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo managed in his stellar 2007-08 season that saw him crowned FIFA World Player of the Year – Vidic could also turn out to be a pivotal figure.
Whether Ferguson is willing to pitch the Serbian into Sunday’s Carling Cup final against Aston Villa at the expense of Wes Brown or Jonny Evans is another matter.
More likely, the Scot will view the showpiece as a reward for those who have featured earlier in the competition, or stepped in while more senior figures have been missing.