After a chastening few days for David Moyes, his Manchester United team finally put on a performance to be proud of as they beat Olympiacos 3-0 to make it into Friday's draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The fact that United's best chance of qualifying for the competition is by winning it says a lot about how United have regressed under Moyes in the league this term.
There have been highs. United went into the new year on the back of six consecutive wins, but they followed that up with three successive defeats.
It was a similar story in November when Moyes' men won three on the bounce before going three weeks without a league win.
"I hope this will give us a confidence boost, but I am not getting carried away," Carrick said.
"Sometimes this year we have taken one step forward and two steps back.
"In the past when we think we have cracked it sometimes we get a result that we don't expect.
"We will enjoy this one but we have Saturday's game against West Ham to think about and (Manchester) City (next Tuesday) as well.
"We haven't had a good season and we are well aware of that so we need to start to get a bit of consistency now.
"Hopefully this will kick us on but we will take it step by step."
Carrick's words of caution were understandable given the roller coaster season United have endured, but it was hard to escape the feeling that the club had put themselves back on track on what was a truly uplifting night at Old Trafford.
Robin van Persie took his hat-trick superbly, Antonio Valencia battled through 90 minutes with one eye almost closed due to the flying arm of Joel Campbell and Ryan Giggs rolled back the years to spray 50-yard passes across the park with consummate ease.
Carrick accepts the players have deserved all the flak that had come their way before the game.
"When you play for this club and you don't get the results then questions are asked, you are there to be shot at," the United midfielder said.
"It is something we have to handle and that is why we knew Wednesday was so important.
"After the weekend we were very down so after a couple of days it was good to get the win."
The only negative to emerge from the evening was a knee injury to Van Persie, who was carried off on a stretcher in the dying minutes following a tackle by Giannis Maniatis.
United assessed the hat-trick hero on Thursday at the AON Training Complex and Moyes is expected to reveal whether the Dutchman will be fit to face West Ham at his weekly press conference on Friday.
The United boss said the injury was "not that bad" following the match and Carrick wished United's star striker a speedy recovery.
"It didn't look too good at the time and it is not nice to see someone stretchered off, but fingers crossed he will be fit soon," he said.
United are without captain Nemanja Vidic for Saturday's game through suspension while there are serious doubts over Chris Smalling (hamstring) and Jonny Evans (calf).
Valencia's eye injury could rule him out of the trip to Upton Park but Carrick looks set to feature against his old club even though he was hobbling by the final whistle on Wednesday evening.
"I just got a kick. It was nothing serious, I'm okay," the England midfielder said.
Despite Wednesday night's euphoria, Moyes knows Saturday is a must-win game for his team.
By the time United kick-off at 5.30pm, they could be 15 points adrift of the top four if Arsenal and Manchester City win their matches earlier in the day.