The Reds’ storming start had laid the foundations for three points at St James’ Park, and it took under 30 seconds for the hosts to register the first shot of the game against the Potters as Scholes arrowed a 25-yard volley comfortably off-target.
Barely another couple of minutes had passed before United pierced the visitors’ well-drilled backline, as van Persie latched onto Scholes’ measured chip, only for a linesman’s flag to halt play.
Stoke’s response was largely channelled through summer acquisition Charlie Adam, who swung in a dangerous cross which De Gea confidently punched to safety, before lashing an ambitious right-footed volley well over.
Sure enough, the Scot was a pivotal figure in the visitors taking a shock lead in the 11th minute. After Michael Kightly had been fouled by Scholes, Adam curled in a fine, right-wing free-kick which Rooney was helpless to avoid as he jostled with Ryan Shawcross, and the ball struck the United forward and bounced past De Gea.
The euphoric away support were still celebrating when Adam almost doubled Stoke’s lead, firing in an audacious effort from the left touchline which De Gea alertly scrambled to safety. Though falling behind was an established trend in the early stages of 2012/13, the goal sucked much of the impetus away from United, with Stoke clearly galvanised.
And, while the visitors’ famed direct approach was often on show, there was substantial guile to complement the graft. Mere moments after De Gea had fielded Peter Crouch’s close-range header, a superb, intricate passing move culminated in the Spaniard parrying away Jonathan Walters’ left-footed effort.