The Japanese international was nonetheless a hit with the people of Cape Town, who produced a carnival atmosphere at Green Point Stadium that was, at times, the equal of many top European grounds. Vuvuzelas were present, of course, but so were many of the songs sung regularly inside Old Trafford. And although the majority of supporters were decked out in the red of United, each of the home side's forward forays was also cheered.
Khama Billiat looked especially lively up front and provided Reds centre-back Scott Wootton with a stern test in the first 45 minutes. Billiat will have been disappointed when he dragged wide in the 20th minute and again later when he passed poorly with Ajax storming down the pitch on the counter-attack.
At the other end, United's only real chance of the first half came on 34 minutes when Hernandez met Wootton's cross with a firm header. But the Mexican could only watch as Ajax goalkeeper (and former Liverpool player) Sander Westerveld dived to his right to push the ball around the post.
Michael Carrick's probing pass rolled agonisingly across the six-yard box just before the interval - neither Hernandez nor Antonio Valencia could apply a finish - but in truth it was the home side who could hold their heads highest as they left the pitch at half-time.