Central midfielders earned the biggest cheers of the night as United beat Galatasaray 1-0 at Old Trafford - firstly for Michael Carrick scoring the only goal, and secondly for Darren Fletcher's long-awaited comeback.
The latter's entrance in the 79th minute, as a substitute for Paul Scholes, ended a ten-month absence dating back to another Champions League home game - the 2-2 draw with Benfica on 22 November 2011, when he also scored his last goal for the Reds. Fletcher then took an extended break after he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
"He's been out for a long time," acknowledged Sir Alex on MUTV, "and I think the supporters recognise what a difficult time the lad's had.
"That [the crowd's ovation] was a mark of respect to a really honest and tremendous young lad.
"I was pleased for him. He didn't do great but he didn't do badly. Taking into consideration it was his first game for ten months, I think he acquitted himself very well. "