Subplot: Three positive substitutions from David Moyes turned the game's tide. The introduction of Adnan Januzaj promptly yielded two bookings for fouls on the youngster, and the weight of United's building pressure forced Stoke to give way after the subsequent arrivals of Chicharito and Antonio Valencia.
Opposition: Mark Hughes' side have had a tough start to the season, but were clearly up for the task at Old Trafford. Compact and tenacious in defence and midfield - with Stephen Nzonzi and Wilson Palacios outstanding - they hounded United in central areas and doubled up effectively out wide. Far beyond just snuffing out the champions, however, the Potters made a string of chances themselves and were only undone by two well-worked goals from the Reds.
Move of the match: A well-worked piece of play culminated in Evra motoring down the left flank, and he picked out Chicharito with a magnificent deep cross to secure a vital victory.
In the stands: After United's boisterous trial of a home singing section during the midweek win over Real Sociedad, the travelling supporters were restored to their usual spot in the south west quadrant. Events dictated that it was the minority who were cheering loudest for most of the game, but the roar which greeted Chicharito's winner would stand comparison with most great Old Trafford soundtracks.