Although the Manchester Senior Cup and Lancashire Senior Cup provide Reserves-level opposition, the new Barclays Under-21 Premier League is obviously throwing up different challenges.
While teams are allowed to field three over-aged players, and a goalkeeper, there also seems a tendency for some clubs to pitch younger charges into action. Indeed, Arsenal's two-goal hero in Monday's 2-2 draw was 17-year-old Chuba Akpom.
Joyce has often stressed the value of his youngsters being tested against older opposition, which is why a number of players are sent out on loan by the club to further their education.
"I don't think [the Under-21 League] is as good a test as it was [in the Reserves] last year," admitted Joyce to MUTV. "I think that was a far greater test.
"Last year, there were five or six men in every single game. Maybe Arsenal had some slightly older ones and they are good quality players but, at this sort of stage now, in the Reserves level where the next step is the first team, you need to play against men.
"That brings the boys on. They can learn so much from how proper professionals handle themselves.
"So, if they're going to step into the first team, it's not going to be a shock to them as they've played against men before."