New players, same old spirit. Four players made competitive debuts at Wembley in the Reds' injury-time Community Shield victory on Sunday, but despite the fresh faces United displayed the same never-say-die attitude that has become the hallmark of Sir Alex Ferguson's modern teams.
In the space of six second-half minutes, goals from Chris Smalling and Nani turned around a two-goal deficit and seized back the momentum Manchester City had stolen at the end of the first period. Then, with the match in the fourth minute of injury time and seemingly poised for penalties, Nani charged down a Vincent Kompany clearance on the halfway line, sprinted clear, rounded Joe Hart in the City goal and slid the ball home to clinch the season's first piece of silverware.
Many had written United off by half-time after goals from Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko - albeit against the run of play - had given the Blues what looked to be an unassailable lead. But changes at the break, including the introduction of debutants Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley, prompted a United fightback that epitomised the strength of character Sir Alex so often speaks of.
The Reds began brightly at Wembley, barely allowing City a kick for the first five minutes and going close when Smalling volleyed goalwards amid a mini melee inside the Blues' penalty area. The young defender, usually deployed as a centre-back, enjoyed plenty of freedom down the right flank and delivered a number of dangerous crosses.
There was little evidence early on of charitable spirit in this Community Shield clash, as players from both teams flew into tackles on a surface made slippery by a heavy dose of rain just after kick-off. Nemanja Vidic and Mario Balotelli squared up to each other for the briefest of moments before