When he was dazzling in pre-season in the summer, Wilfried Zaha would not have dared envisage that it would take until nearly November for him to get his first Manchester United start.
There have been no injuries which have delayed the opportunity, he simply has not been selected by David Moyes.
A £15 million acquisition from Crystal Palace, his omission has frustrated supporters in the light of Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia continuing to display inconsistent form this season.
Manager David Moyes had suggested in the build-up to the game that he had not determined the role Zaha would play between now and the end of the season, with rumours building he could be sent out on loan in January.
In other words, Zaha has two months to convince Moyes he deserves to stick around.
He played 78 minutes in the 4-0 League Cup win over Norwich City, helping United progress to the semi-finals. Assistant manager Steve Round said after the game the winger was brought off because he was tired, understandable given his recent lack of first team action.
Zaha commented on Twitter after the game to declare himself pleased at a step in the right direction.
Bit rusty but glad to get my first start tonight #Mufc— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) October 29, 2013
Teammate Rio Ferdinand also posted about how thrilled he was to see him alongside Adnan Januzaj in attack.
Decent result that, nice to see the future in januzaj & Zaha who both put in good performances! @CH14_ with the usual goals!— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) October 29, 2013
Zaha was particularly bright in the first half, even if outshone by the livelier Januzaj who has been playing regularly in recent weeks.
If David Moyes is still uncomfortable throwing him into the Premier League, Zaha can at least take solace in the fact United will now have an upcoming League Cup quarter-final in which he will feel he has earned another opportunity.
Here's what United fans had to say on Twitter about his display...
Zaha? Positive, worked ok, needs to learn when to pass and when to run, not fully fit— United Rant (@unitedrant) October 29, 2013
If anyone had doubts about Januzaj getting I the first team ahead of Zaha, I guess it's clear now. Looks far more ready than Wilf.— Allan Matos (@allandematos) October 29, 2013
Zaha still a little rusty, needs to home in on his passing and shooting. Great work ethic though!— MiniBK (@MiniBKs) October 29, 2013
Difficult day for Zaha. Finally given a go but he didn't make the most of it. Great pace and skill but struggling for end product.— Scott (@R_o_M) October 29, 2013
Twice already Zaha has produced two good crosses from the right. It may not seem like much but this is uncharted territory for United fans.— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) October 29, 2013
Very impressed with Zaha tonight, linked up with Januzaj+ Rafael really well. And looks a lot stronger than 6 months ago. Hope he gets a run— Dave Goddard (@DaveGoddard1971) October 30, 2013
Solid win for United, good to keep the clean sheet, great to see Zaha start and impress! On to the next one! #mufc— Jason Black (@JasonBlack92) October 29, 2013
When should Zaha's next United start come? What did you make of his performance?
image: © Tom Brogan