Although he had to overcome a summer ankle operation and the intense speculation about a move to Real Madrid before he could get back in the thick of the action this season, the 23-year-old started in superb fashion, but, after notching nine goals in his first 12 appearances, Ronaldo suddenly hit a standstill.
Apart from a goal against Gamba Osaka in the Club World Cup, the Portugal superstar did not find the net once in two months. However, after converting a penalty in the Carling Cup semi-final win over Derby, Ronaldo then scored twice in the midweek hammering of West Brom, leaving Ferguson to conclude the former Sporting Lisbon star is at last acknowledging he cannot expect to enjoy the stunning achievements of 12 months ago as a matter of course.
"It was a miracle season," reflected Ferguson. It is hard to imagine he can replicate that again. But I am not sure that Cristiano understood it was a miracle season. He had the belief it was normal for him and I think he just expected to carry on. But one of the situations he had to face was that this year couldn't be as good as last season. Now he has started to come to terms with the whole thing, we will see more goals from him."
It is not that Ronaldo's talent has lessened, just that opponents are now concentrating on ways to stop him. Two, sometimes three markers are commonplace for Ronaldo now. In theory that should mean more space for his team-mates, although until recently, that has not been translated into an improvement in the overall United goals output.
"You often comes up against a brick wall in football," said Ferguson. "Opponents can make it difficult for you because they analyse you better. They put more emphasis on stopping Ronaldo, although we have been missing chances from a few departments not just him."
However Ferguson now expects Ronaldo to go past the 20-goal mark for the third season in a row. Currently, the winger is on 13, which is not a bad tally for a wide-man at this stage of the season, even if it is only a quarter of last year's phenomenal total.
"People are saying Cristiano has not had a good season but he has got 13 goals and 11 assists," said Ferguson. "If you dismiss last season altogether they would be saying it is incredible for a winger to score 13 at this stage. I am absolutely certain he will end up with over 20 again."