from the left and right, only to twice head the ball off target.
If Welbeck was the main instigator of United’s attacks in the first half, he started the second in the same vein, slipping a ball through to Owen who might have done better than toepoke wide had Steele not come off his line to put him under pressure.
United's first goalscorer was withdrawn only a few moments later, apparently having taken a knock. His replacement, Zoran Tosic, almost immediately picked up from where Welbeck had left off. Running across the Barnsley backline to collect the ball, the Serbian sub bent a shot just wide of the top left corner.
Owen's miss just after half-time was just the warm-up for what was to come. From a similar position, but with significantly more to do, United's number seven received a pass from Anderson with his back to goal. In the blink of an eye, Owen turned and then tricked his way through a pack of Barnsley defenders before stroking the ball beyond Steele's dive into the bottom right-hand corner.
It was a stunning goal, reminiscent of the young Owen who came to prominence with England and a certain North West club. At 29, he's still got it - and Sir Alex has more justification for his surprise summer swoop.
The next drama centred on another player currently out of the England picture, Gary Neville. The United skipper slid in to challenge Adam Hammill, probably the home side's most creative player, and although he won the ball, he caught the opponent above the ankle. The contact prompted an angry reaction from the Barnsley man and a surprising one from referee Chris Foy who produced a straight red card. Neville seemed to be in shock as he headed for