Across 90 minutes of limp ineffectualness, it was evident that club policy was to depart from the FA Cup at the earliest opportunity, the better to ensure Premier League survival.
"You cannot guarantee it," said their boss Martin Jol, as good as admitting to the plan. "But I always like teams around us to be involved in replays."
At United, the attitude to the world's oldest football competition is very different. Javier Hernandez, scorer of two poacher's goals in the second half to add to a lovely strike by Wayne Rooney and a Ryan Giggs penalty, summed up the corporate message.
"For (nearly) 10 years, all the players have been here, they have not won this cup," he said. "The gaffer, my team-mates and myself, we want to win this cup. We have a lot of hunger to win it."
Alex Ferguson added that it was "ridiculous" that Rio Ferdinand had never won the cup – they last lifted it in 2004. This year, he said, they were determined to do it for Rio; though such romantic indulgence of his senior defender did not extend to actually selecting him for this game.
Not that United needed much in the way of defence. Dimitar Berbatov was warmly applauded before the game by the home crowd, before going on to give demonstration of precisely why Ferguson was right to move his record signing on to Jol last summer.
The old boy was in magnificent form here, and the only thing that might have disturbed his equilibrium this week was the sight of Wilfried Zaha, the latest 'next Ryan Giggs', signing for the club while wearing a T-shirt decorated with the image of his nemesis Imogen Thomas.
The way Giggs is playing though, he will still be in possession of the No 11 shirt when Zaha nears retirement. (© Daily Telegraph, London)