United's first test of Reina followed the same blueprint, as Rafael latched onto a pass from Antonio Valencia and cut back onto his left-foot. The Brazilian's half-hit shot was neither testing enough to worry Reina, nor gentle enough for the lively Welbeck to convert.
After Liverpool's bright start, gradually United began to boss possession, and put together some neat, intricate passing as the champions sought to pick their way through the visitors' packed central areas.
On the half hour, once such piece of play should have borne fruit. Scholes capped a slick move by spreading the ball to Giggs, but could then only head the Welshman's cross straight at Reina, who instinctively parried the ball away and preserved parity.
Evra rose to meet Valencia's cross at the far moments later, but could only power a far more difficult chance over Reina's crossbar as United turned the screw. Liverpool's response was to tighten their own approach, pressing the Reds all over the field and shutting down outlets.
Dalglish's men even ended the half with a rally, as Gerrard's shot was deflected over and Martin Skrtel's shot from the resultant corner also cleared the crossbar, but the atmosphere was cranked up just before the interval when Suarez prepared to stride through on goal.
The Uruguayan's run was halted by an excellent, last-ditch challenge from Ferdinand, though Suarez's animated protests made his feelings clear, as did his decision to continue his dispute after the half-time whistle.
While words were reportedly exchanged between both sets of players in the Old Trafford tunnel, it was the hosts who landed the first telling blow of the game, within two minutes of the restart.
Giggs' right-wing corner was inadvertently flicked on by Jordan Henderson as he jumped with