Twelve months ago, United were embroiled in a battle to save their European skins, only to fail catastrophically when they lost to Basle in their last match to make an unexpected exit.
There are no such worries this time around, with qualification for the last 16 as group winners already assured before Tuesday's penultimate match with Galatasaray in Istanbul.
And given the Red Devils have also assumed favouritism for the Premier League title race, it seems things are going rather well.
"We can be quite satisfied with the position we are in," said Carrick.
"It doesn't mean to say we can take it for granted because we know how much hard work lies ahead of us.
"But we are in a better position this year than we were last, certainly in the Champions League.
"It does make things a bit easier but we need to build on what we have got so far."
Ferguson is bound to take the option of leaving some key men at home when his side head to Turkey next week.
Robin van Persie, Patrice Evra and Paul Scholes can all expect to remain at home as the likes of Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Alexander Buttner take centre stage.
There may also be a rare appearance for United this term in a central striking role for Danny Welbeck, whilst Anders Lindegaard has only featured in one first-team game since the end of September.
The game will represent United's first trip to the Turk Telecom Arena since Galatasaray moved into the impressive 52,000 arena last year.
It is a stadium that is certainly more plush than the old Ali Sami Yen arena, where the Red Devils endured all those "Welcome to Hell" taunts 19 years ago.
Apart from Ferguson, Ryan Giggs is the only possible survivor from a chaotic night when Eric Cantona was sent off, Bryan Robson was baton charged and United's return to the highest European stage ended in depressing failure.
Ferguson has been back to Istanbul plenty of times since, most recently in 2009, when Paul Scholes scored the only goal against Besiktas.
The atmosphere still takes the breath away though and for the younger members of United's squad, it will be a trip they will not forget in any great hurry.
It's all part of the whole footballing experience though, which, as Carrick points out, he still benefits from, even at the age of 31.
"You do draw experience from being in different situations before and figuring out what is the best way to handle them," he said.
"We have had plenty of ups and downs and there will be more of them between now and the end of the season.
"It is up to us to deal with that and get the consistency to do our best every week."