The Reds were scarcely troubled by a visiting side featuring 10 changes to that which overcame Tottenham last weekend, and the game was buried after Rooney's penalty and a powerful Vidic header on the stroke of half-time. When Valencia capped a stunning move with a blistering finish on 65 minutes, it was merely a matter of reducing Chelsea's goal-difference advantage.
More defensive injury concerns had prompted another reshuffle for Sir Alex Ferguson, who replaced the injured Wes Brown with Michael Carrick, and brought in Ritchie De Laet at right-back, with Darren Fletcher rested, but ready if required on the bench. There was also a restoration of the Reds' 4-4-2 formation, with Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in tandem ahead of a midfield four of Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes, Darron Gibson and Gabriel Obertan, with the latter making his first league start.
That news was overshadowed pre-match, however, by Mick McCarthy's decision to make wholesale changes to the team which shocked Tottenham at White Hart Lane. With a Molineux clash against Burnley looming this weekend, the Wolves manager made 10 changes to his side. Not so much Wolves as lambs to the slaughter, on paper at least.
United dominated the opening exchanges. Rooney found himself with time and space inside the visitors' area after Gibson's drive had ricocheted through to him, but Marcus Hahnemann saved the striker's low shot. Soon afterwards, the Wolves goalkeeper preserved parity again when he managed to block Rooney's flick from a Patrice Evra cross.