Manchester United must await sterner tests of their rehabilitation but such have been the tremors since the 6-1 mauling by their neighbours City on Sunday that they could take greater pleasure than usual in the dismissal of lower-league Carling Cup fodder.
Aldershot are 15th in League Two and their priority is to preserve Football League status. The Hampshire club have a monthly wage bill of £90,000, which is barely enough to keep Wayne Rooney between Mondays and Thursdays, and the gulf between the teams was all too apparent.
There was never likely to be any slip-up and the outlandish notion disappeared once the swaggering Dimitar Berbatov had put United in front. Sir Alex Ferguson had promised that his club would "recover" and although it was hard to read too much into their progress into the quarter-finals, he could praise the "professionalism" and "discipline" that underpinned the victory.
Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia got United's other goals and it ought to have been more in what was a one-sided contest. There had been cries at one point from the travelling supporters for a 6-1 scoreline, which would have come coated in irony, but they and Ferguson could have few complaints.
"We were under pressure with the result at the weekend," Owen said. "As you can imagine, the laughs and jokes [at the club] have quietened down a bit [since Sunday]. Sometimes, you need a kick in the teeth to get going and it was a big kick in the teeth. We wanted to bounce back and thankfully we got the win."
Ferguson had overhauled his team at this small and atmospheric ground, which has stands only on three sides. None of the derby losers featured and the lineup was not dissimilar to that which started at Leeds United in the previous round of this competition. Yet there was still plenty of class on show, not least in the shape of Berbatov, who cannot have envisaged making a rare start in front of 7,000 fans against a League Two club when he completed his £30.75m transfer from Tottenham Hotspur.
His goal followed the first flash of United slickness. The ball fizzed between red shirts and it was Park Ji-sung who produced the final pass. Berbatov's finish was low and instinctive. After a brief silence, the home crowd announced that their team were "gonna win 6-1". United will not escape hearing those two digits for some time.
This was one of the biggest nights in Aldershot's history and comfortably the biggest since the club folded and reformed in 1992; United had been here before in 1970, for a League Cup tie, when Best, Law and Charlton survived a scare before winning 3-1. Aldershot had never played in the fourth round of the League Cup and everywhere you looked, there was pride and excitement.
Dean Holdsworth's team pressed at the outset and the talking point was Nemanja Vidic's ill-timed challenge on Alex Rodman, as the winger darted clear. The returning United captain was not the last man and he escaped with a booking.
Aldershot flickered through the willing Jermaine McGlashan but United kept them at arm's length and they ended the first half in charge, courtesy of a goal from Owen. He started the move – sweeping a pass out to Berbatov – and he finished it, after the Bulgarian had rolled the ball square and invitingly for him. The visitors might also have scored through Fabio da Silva in the 21st minute.
"United had bundles of quality, we were beaten by a fantastic set of players … world-class players," Holdsworth said. "But I'm proud of everybody at the club. Sir Alex was full of compliments for us and we'll take comfort from that."
It became a question of how many United would score and there was a flatness about the second-half, a training-ground feel to proceedings. Ferguson brought on three young substitutes, including the debutant Michael Keane at right-back, and United closed out the tie with the minimum of fuss.
You had to admire Valencia's curling drive from distance shortly after the interval and together with Berbatov and Park, he went close to further extending United's advantage.
A highlight for the home team was Ross Worner's excellent save from Berbatov's rasping free-kick but they could not score the goal that would have gone down in club folklore, although Luke Guttridge did shoot narrowly wide and drew a smart save out of Ben Amos from a free-kick. It was United who called the Shots.
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