Jose Mourinho couldn’t have envisaged the Manchester United outfit that started the 2-0 over Crystal Palace in his most fevered nightmares.
More than half a team of players most observers would suggest are best suited to a role in a front three made what must have been a cockle-warming XI for fans that have bemoaned some dour performances over the last two campaigns.
Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata formed the central-midfield partnership, with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard on the flanks and Marcus Rashford up front.
In short, the kind of unabashedly, luxuriously attacking, youth-entrusting selection Mourinho has made his name spurning in favour of pragmatism and experience during his career.
The former Chelsea manager has long been expected to take over from the much-maligned Louis van Gaal this summer.
Yet, the XI selected against Crystal Palace and the way in which they performed could hardly have formed a more complete rebuttal of the former’s claims on the Dutchman’s Old Trafford throne.
Van Gaal is 6/5 to remain in charge of the Reds come the first day of the 2016/17 Premier League season and it would seem perverse to pull the rug out from underneath him just as his and United’s philosophies are finally beginning to gel.
The dissent that has dogged the Iron Tulip intermittently throughout his tenure has seldom been at such a low level for as long as it has during the recent run of five wins from six matches.
Even the 3-0 loss to Tottenham – complete with typically opaque substitutions – that was the blot on that particular copybook drew relatively little scorn in comparison to reverses earlier in the campaign.
United are 11/4 to overtake a spluttering Arsenal for a top-four finish and 11/10 favourites to win the FA Cup.
Given the green shoots currently emanating from Carrington, removing Van Gaal would be difficult to justify if the Reds achieved the former and impossible to rationalise should he also lead the club to a first win in the latter since 2004.
The Old Trafford side are even money to beat Everton within 90 minutes in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday and 53/100 to qualify for the final by any means.