A fortnight on from the embarrassing 5-0 home humiliation at the hands of rivals Liverpool, the Red Devils fell to another one-sided defeat as they returned to the scene of the crime for the 186th Manchester derby.
Pep Guardiola’s men cruised to a victory far more comfortable than the 2-0 scoreline suggested, but Eric Bailly’s own goal and a preventable Bernardo Silva effort was enough to ease past United.
Solskjaer had called the loss to Liverpool the darkest day of his near three-year reign and the manner of this loss to their neighbours will lead to renewed pressure during the international break.
Only three points separated these sides before kick-off but the gulf in quality and application soon became clear as Joao Cancelo was given time to swing in a cross that Bailly turned into his own goal inside seven minutes.
A string of superb David De Gea saves prevented things getting as ugly as they had against Liverpool, but dominant City deservedly added another before the break as Silva got behind Luke Shaw to turn in a ball from Cancelo.
United were poor in defence and lacked control in possession as Solskjaer’s meek side failed to muster a response, leading to a smattering of boos at the final whistle.
It was a challenging afternoon for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team (Martin Rickett/PA)
City fans gleefully sang ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ from the outset at Old Trafford, where Harry Maguire headed over a Shaw free-kick in the opening minutes.
United also had a good early chance to score against Liverpool before familiar defensive issues allowed their visitors to score – and there was to be a repeat against their neighbours.
The danger appeared to have gone when Victor Lindelof, returning to the back three, stopped Ilkay Gundogan’s hooked cross being turned in, yet City regained possession and moved the ball wide.
Bruno Fernandes and hapless Aaron Wan-Bissaka could have cut the angle for Cancelo but the City man was able to cross from the left and Bailly turned the ball past his own goalkeeper in front of the Stretford End.
Eric Bailly’s own goal broke the deadlock (Martin Rickett/PA)
The hosts remained under the cosh from that point, unable to clear their lines and make headway until Cristiano Ronaldo forced Ederson into a save from overlapping Shaw’s cross.
However, the hosts’ first cohesive attacking move only sparked City into life.
Phil Foden was all too easily played behind Wan-Bissaka and crossed for Kevin De Bruyne, whose shot was blocked before De Gea superbly stopped Gabriel Jesus turning the ball in.
The United goalkeeper produced another superb save when Cancelo tried his luck from distance, before then reacting to prevent Lindelof turning a Foden cross into his own goal.
De Gea continued to provide a one-man defence as he stopped a De Bruyne snapshot and got down to prevent another through a crowded box as the visitors’ domination continued.
But a second City goal felt inevitable and it arrived in the final minute of the first half.
Wan-Bissaka failed to press and Cancelo clipped a dangerous cross that Shaw was letting out for a goal kick, only for Silva to get behind him and prod past De Gea at his near post. It was another poor goal that led to jeers at the break.
Bernardo Silva doubled City’s lead just before the break (Martin Rickett/PA)
Former City academy player Jadon Sancho replaced Bailly as United went to a back four in the second half, with overlooked midfielder Donny van de Beek’s name chanted as he began to warm-up.
The visitors continued to probe United’s backline during a relatively tame start to the second period, with Gundogan firing into the side-netting.
Shaw was forced off as City continued in second gear. De Bruyne fired wide and Van de Beek’s introduction in place of Fred with 10 minutes remaining was met by huge cheers from the Old Trafford faithful.
Foden clipped the foot of the far post with a low shot on the break and John Stones spun to turn the ball just wide as the clock wound down.
Jesus was furious not to have won a penalty when substitute Alex Telles challenged him, with Ronaldo booked for a poor tackle towards the end of a chastening derby loss.