The night was always going to belong to Paul Scholes, despite the galaxy of stars on show at Old Trafford. Pele and Eric Cantona may have been part of the Cosmos ranks but nothing could overshadow the quiet genius of United's literally shy and retiring midfielder.
In some testimonials, a penalty is needed to tee up an old boy for a last snatch of glory. Less than nine minutes had elapsed here when Patrice Evra rolled the ball back for Scholes to detonate a trademark piledriver past Brad Friedel to bring the house down.
Friedel, so often the scourge of United, was a busy man but Nicky Butt almost levelled when sweeping wide after some fancy footwork by Dwight Yorke. Instead, the hosts went further ahead when Ashley Young was chopped down by Marvin Iraheta and Wayne Rooney thundered the penalty in off the underside of the bar.
Yanik Reyering was a party-pooper when making a goal-saving block to deny Scholes following fine work by Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov and the defender also did well to stop a Berbatov effort on the line.
A number of changes at the break failed to affect United's stride as Anderson played a one-two with Danny Welbeck before supplying an instant finish past Chad Calderone for number three. Stefan Dimitrov headed a glorious chances inches wide for the Americans and the Reds extended their lead when Welbeck pounced on some poor defending following a cross by Rooney.
Scholes smashed a free-kick wide before there was a glimpse of the future when Tom Cleverley and Welbeck showed their quality to tee up Mame Biram Diouf for a full-blooded drive to make it 5-0. The Senegalese striker then marauded through unchallenged to add a sixth with his second of the night.