Cardiff are preparing to face the Red Devils for the first time in over 40 years on Sunday, having defeated their neighbours Manchester City at Cardiff City Stadium earlier this season.
United made a stuttering start to life under new boss David Moyes, but over the last month they have returned to familiar form and are undefeated in their last nine games in all competitions.
And Cowie believes it shows United have lost none of their gravitas, even with the loss of the patriarchal figure of Sir Alex Ferguson.
He said: "It is still the same players who won the league last year, they are not going to lose that confidence overnight.
"Don't get me wrong, they have lost one of the biggest, if not the most iconic manager ever, and it will take time.
"But they will come here Sunday and expect to do the job and take the three points. That's where it is up to us to make it as hard as possible."
When asked if that aura puts United on a par with the likes of the All Blacks, he added: "I am sure they are on the same scale (as teams like the All Blacks and Ferrari).
"I have never played against them, but in terms of watching them over the last number of years even when they have not been at their best they have got that ability to win games and the quality on the subs bench to change things if they need to.
"Hopefully for us they have an off day and we take advantage of it."
United's upturn in fortunes may mean Cardiff find themselves wishing they could have played them earlier in the season.
But defender Ben Turner knows there is never an easy time to face a side possessing such quality.
He said: "At the start of the season there were a few eyebrows raised but if you look at the last month they are starting to win and they are not out of the title race.
"It is probably a bad time to play them but when is there a good time to play them? So we just get on with it.
"All the lads feel that after the last couple of games we have had there is a reduced amount of pressure on them.
"They are in a different mini-league to us so we are not really expected to get anything from them so maybe that will work to our advantage."