This game looked as if it had been recycled despite the freshness of the season.
Although Tottenham Hotspur held out until the last 30 minutes, the defeat was still comprehensive. These visitors continue to be without a league win at Old Trafford since 1989 and Manchester United, the reigning champions, have set off in pursuit of a 20th title.
The familiarity of it all was a delight to the home support, supplying yet more evidence that United have already been rejuvenated. For a period Tottenham had some effect in keeping them off balance by mounting regular attacks but it was not sustained beyond the interval. Although Spurs hit the post with an attempt from Jermain Defoe after United's goalkeeper, David de Gea, had dealt poorly with a cross Sir Alex Ferguson's side led 2-0 by then.
Old Trafford regularly stages an endurance test and Tottenham were to flag like so many before them. The revitalisation of United is intriguing but it also leaves scope for old-timers to make their mark. Ryan Giggs, at 37, came off the bench and crossed for Wayne Rooney to head in the last goal three minutes from the close.
There was no consolation for Tottenham but other clubs will have noted that De Gea, the 20-year-old newcomer, continues to have shaky moments, even if he could afford them on this occasion. He certainly revealed audacity when he shimmied away from Jermain Defoe and was fouled in front of his posts but it was still a peculiar and needless risk to take.
Such quirks can probably be discouraged and they have done no serious harm yet. United will be right to dwell instead on the effectiveness of someone like Danny Welbeck. He scored the goal that broke the deadlock. With 61 minutes gone Tom Cleverley's cross from deep on the right was a good, swinging delivery but the marking was lax and Welbeck got in front of Michael Dawson to head home.
United were instantly at ease and shortly Brad Friedel had to tip a set piece from Rooney round the post. Welbeck showed off more of his repertoire when backheeling the ball to Anderson in an accomplished exchange that saw the Brazilian score the second after 76 minutes.
The visitors had at least shown stern resistance on another front since it seems that Luka Modric, who was far from being in the correct frame of mind and had no role at Old Trafford, will not be permitted to move to Chelsea. Apart from any issue of principle Tottenham can hardly do without him and, whatever the midfielder's frame of mind, there may be no option but to resume his work for Harry Redknapp's side.
It says much for United's status that the absence of almost all the usual back four, with Patrice Evra alone in action, was not much of a handicap. Though the hosts pressed to some extent in the first half, Redknapp's side were not on the verge of panic, even if they trembled slightly when a chip by Rooney picked out Anderson and the midfielder headed beyond the post after 29 minutes.
United were unlikely to buckle under any feeling of frustration on this pitch. They are unbeaten at home in the Premier League since Chelsea took full points in April 2010. Tottenham, on the face of it, lacked either the resilience to keep the opposition in check or the flair to knock them off balance, yet Niko Kranjcar had excelled in a 5-0 defeat of Heart of Midlothian at Tynecastle in the Europa League qualifier last week. Rafael van der Vaart had flourished then.
He was eventually removed here. A Tynecastle evening naturally cannot stand comparison with the challenge of Old Trafford but initially Tottenham did look a team in good spirits. This was their first Premier League fixture of the campaign, following postponement of their scheduled opener at home to Everton after the riots, and for a time they seemed resolute as well as fresh.
Their spirit was strong for a while but the necessary incisiveness was lacking. It would be glib to pretend that Modric, single-handed, could have delivered it. That would be fanciful. There is a certain familiarity about Redknapp's hankering for the bustle and intrigue of the transfer market but Tottenham do need to be bolstered. Failing that, the likelihood is that they will settle nearer the middle of the table, with the recollection of a Champions League campaign fading slowly.
These matters are not a subject for glib conclusions. The club's wish for financial stability cannot be mocked but it also has to be squared with the crucial task of assuring supporters that Tottenham will not drift. It is entirely normal, of course, that a visit to Old Trafford should bring on a bout of reflection. Tottenham will be far from the last side to leave this ground in a rueful mood.
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