A few things changed about Manchester United against Hull yesterday, but it was mostly the usual. Take for instance, the injury curse that has booked itself front row seats on a season ticket for United games. For a while it seemed the likes of Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria were vaccinated from this particular injury ailment at birth. Turns out they weren't as the pair became the latest concerns for Louis van Gaal ahead of Tuesday's fixture against Stoke.
Di Maria is a certain miss while Wayne (who has found a seductive level of consistency lately to his credit) might just force himself to play given he cannot stand the sight of anyone else wearing his armband and sitting on the Captain's spot in the dressing room.
That however was as gloomy as it got on the night with United recording a comfortable home win against Steve Bruce's Hull. It was nothing more than it should be. United were as comfortable as they would have been under Sir Alex for this fixture except that they achieved it with a sparkle. The build up play, the inter-passing and movement told of something being worked on in training. Old Trafford yearns for a day when United will be out at full strength, but it is already apparent that half-strength will do against most sides of United can play to their potential.
Individually, Ander Herrera stood out despite only playing because of an injury to Di Maria. It was always going to be interesting how he would play with Michael Carrick behind him and that security told....well, confirmed his class on the ball enroute to winning yet another Man of the Match award. His midfield combination with Juan Mata is quite a beauty to behold. Most importantly though was that the two combined to ensure that we did not lose our way when Angel exited. That in itself is a measure of the depth in talent in advanced central midfield that we now possess.
Robin van Persie played himself into form with a much better effort than we've seen this season. That he was involved in all the goals was someway to respond to the criticism he received last week. He needs to maintian that though. It cannot be the exception but rather the norm that he puts in such displays every week. As already pointed out, the captain is, on his part, enjoying a run of decent displays for the first time in a while. If he keeps this up, he might start to win over a couple of more fans that had written him off following his performances at the start of the season culminating in that red card against West Ham.
But not to get carried away, it was as it should be. Stoke City visit on Tuesday. It will be a tougher examination but one which we must pass, not least because all the sides around us matched our result, leaving 4th place still unsecured.
The week's job is therefore only half done so far.