United were linked with Cole on a number of occasions before the England star eventually joined Liverpool this summer.
As his contract at Chelsea wound down, it was said Ferguson viewed the midfielder as ideal back-up for Paul Scholes.
Yet, on the eve of Liverpool's visit to Old Trafford, the Red Devils boss has stated such a deal was never on the cards.
"We were approached by Joe Cole's agent at one point but we didn't enter into it at all," said Ferguson.
"It was complicated to get involved in that."
In truth, Cole's recent injury problems have left major question marks over the former West Ham man, which England coach Fabio Capello for one is yet to answer.
One of Cole's former team-mates also has a background of injuries to contend with.
However, in Rio Ferdinand's case, the issue is not so much whether he can regain his effectiveness, more the simple matter of being available on a consistent basis.
It is something that has eluded him for the past two years, which explains why Ferguson has confirmed the captain's armband, having been removed from Gary Neville, has now been passed on to Nemanja Vidic on a permanent basis.
"As I explained last week, what we wanted was someone who was consistently available for us," Ferguson told MUTV.
"Everyone recognises Nemanja Vidic would always be there. He has been fit all season and you don't leave him out of the team unless you are going to rest him.
"He started the campaign as captain and it will stay that way."
It means even if Ferdinand is in the team to face Liverpool it will be as a foot soldier, which presumably raises further doubts over his position as England skipper given there was already a body of opinion that felt Steven Gerrard should keep the job he has performed so admirably at over the past few months.
Not that it will matter on Sunday as Ferdinand, one of the few players expected to retain their place after Tuesday's disappointment against Rangers, tries to help ease United past their fiercest rivals.
"I sound like a parrot but this is the fixture. There is no question about that," he said.
"It doesn't change. The form fluctuates quite a bit but we won the last game so hopefully that turns it back towards us again."