Referee Mark Clattenburg's explanation of why he awarded Wigan a free-kick following Wayne Rooney's clash with James McCarthy will determine whether the Manchester United striker ends up facing a three-match ban.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez was incensed by the sight of Rooney smacking his elbow into the back of McCarthy's head and sought out Clattenburg for an explanation at half-time.
The Durham official told Martinez he felt there had been "a coming together", something he appeared to indicate through hand gestures at the time. That cut little ice with the Wigan manager, who felt the decision was straightforward, a view endorsed by Match of the Day duo Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson when they analysed the incident.
The only obvious way round this for Clattenburg when he sends in his official match report would be to state he saw the clash, but not the elbow.
Even then, the FA would be within their rights to ask exactly why he gave the free-kick considering, without the elbow incident, McCarthy had moved towards Rooney rather than the other way round.
If Clattenburg says he saw the entire clash fully, Rooney will escape sanction, although a three-match ban could see him miss this week's Premier League games with Chelsea and Liverpool, plus the FA Cup sixth round tie against either Arsenal or Leyton Orient.
Sir Alex Ferguson's initial reaction was to steel himself for a media backlash, which duly arrived from Hansen and Lawrenson.
"Every picture tells a story and sometimes you can't defend the indefensible," Lawrenson said.
And Hansen added: "He (Rooney) is in big trouble. You can't argue with the pictures. There is some conjecture about whether the referee saw the incident or not. Is he looking at the ball? Categorically, he is not looking at the incident. He is looking at the ball.
"McCarthy takes a step to his left to try and block Wayne. He (Rooney) swings the elbow. He has thrown the elbow, smacked him on the head and should have been off."
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