As Ferguson was busy trying to seal a deal to sign Dimitar Berbatov for a club record £30.75million in the summer, the Scot was not fully aware how much City were trying to shake up the football world as the minutes ticked down on deadline day.
In the end, they 'only' got Robinho. But it has presented a danger Ferguson is sure his players will not shy away from.
"I heard about it all pretty late in the day," he recalled. "They made a bid for five or six players. The whole thing was a surprise because everyone expected Robinho to join Chelsea.
"But this club is good at responding to challenges.
"We had to accept it and do something about it with Chelsea otherwise we would have been second forever more.
"Thankfully, we have won the last two leagues."
Not that Ferguson expects too many star names to join City mid-season. Traditionally, January is a difficult time to sign players of proven quality and, no matter how much Hughes has to spend, he can see no difference this time around.
"It is easier said than done," said Ferguson.
"January is not the best time to buy players, although I suppose it depends how City do in Europe."