I had only really know Man Utd under Sir Alex, and especially after the class of 92, and the all the success that followed, the club had an aura about it that made it stand out above the other 'elite' clubs, mainly due to Sir Alex's long tenure I guess.
They have always spent big, but paired that with some home grown talent and developing young talent along the way. The title win of a couple of years ago showed what Sir Alex was capable of.
I now dont see Man Utd as being any different to say Chelsea or Man City. They have lost any sort of edge that they had previously.