But if that was a sobering moment for the Reds, Rooney and van Persie quickly combined to intoxicate Old Trafford once again with a goal of undiluted brilliance. Already looking sharp in a deep, roving role, Rooney clipped a magnificent 40-yard pass into the path of van Persie, whose audacious, first-time volley hurtled across Guzan and into the bottom corner.
A roared scoff of amazement filled the air, before again making way for chants commemorating United's increasingly inevitable feat. Though Villa, to their credit, continued to probe for an unlikely route back into the game, the attacking incision of Rooney, van Persie, Giggs and Kagawa gave them no respite in defence.
The latter trio combined shortly after the half hour to seal the Dutchman's double-quick treble. Kagawa's fine through ball sent Giggs scampering into the area, and the veteran astutely squared for van Persie to take a touch, plot a path past Guzan and belt a finish in off the upright.
Having all-but sealed United's 20th title, the Reds' number 20 was also homing in on personal glory, moving to the top of the Premier League's scoring charts with his 24th strike of the season.
Van Persie's first contribution of the second period actually came at the other end of the field, clearing Andreas Weimann's header off the line as the visitors made a bright start to the second period. David De Gea was forced into a low save by Benteke, then a wonderful, full-length tip over the bar to keep out substitute Karim El Ahmadi's fine long-range effort.