United's 1-0 win over Real Sociedad means they now need just one win from their final three group games to reach the 10-point mark that former Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson always felt guaranteed safe passage into the knockout phase.
The theory does not always hold true, as Manchester City discovered two seasons ago.
However, if the three points came in United's final home game against Shakhtar Donetsk on December 10 it would definitely be enough.
United's European form is at odds with the struggles of David Moyes' side in domestic combat.
The Premier League champions are still to win successive league games, have recorded just one success in four outings at Old Trafford, where they have lost to West Brom and drawn against Southampton, and have fallen eight points behind pace-setters Arsenal.
Whilst Ferguson spoke optimistically of United being the only team who could win the title from such a position earlier this week, Rooney knows they cannot suffer any more damage.
Which is why the forward, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday, is looking for a repeat of Wednesday night's performance against Stoke on Saturday.
"We hope to take this momentum into Saturday," he said.
"We have been too inconsistent. We have to get that consistency about our game and hopefully this win is the start.
"Stoke is a massive game for us.
"We are already a few points behind in the league so we can't drop any more at this stage. We need to make sure we get that win we need."
Moyes, meanwhile, believes Rooney is a man reborn.
"I was going to say he was back to the old Wayne Rooney but it might be better to say he is the new Wayne Rooney," said Moyes.
"He came back in great condition, trained really hard.
"I really couldn't explain how hard he has worked. He has been incredible."