Van Gaal's Netherlands side have already impressed at the World Cup after beating Spain 5-1 and coasting to top spot in Group B, but they were handed a stern test in Fortaleza on Sunday evening, as Mexico effectively shut down their attack and took a second half lead through Giovani dos Santos.
With 15 minutes to play, the frustration in the Dutch camp was growing. A World Cup campaign that started in such incredible fashion was threatening to fizzle out - and then van Gaal made the controversial and bold decision to substitute star striker Robin van Persie in favour of Huntelaar. The aim was simple - switch from the 5-3-2 to 4-2-3-1, play wider with Memphis Depay and Arjen Robben on the flanks, and get a direct service in to Schalke hitman Huntelaar.
It worked perfectly. Huntelaar was instrumental in the equalising goal, heading the ball back into the danger zone for Wesley Sneijder to smash the Dutch level, before he converted the last gasp winning penalty to set up a meeting with Costa Rica in Salvador this Saturday.
The change in style showed van Gaal's adaptability and the presence of a clear 'Plan B' under his stewardship. Yet, with the 62-year-old set to arrive at Old Trafford after the World Cup, he will find that he may not have the same options at his disposal, which begs the question - should he bring Huntelaar with him?
A number of Dutch players have been - unsurprisingly - linked with moves to Old Trafford, including Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blind, Nigel de Jong, Jordy Clasie, Memphis Depay and Arjen Robben, but 30-year-old Huntelaar seems to have slipped the radar so far.
We saw United bombard the penalty area with crosses and high balls last season to no avail - particularly again Fulham. With van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck as the options in attack, there is no clear target man figure that can offer that Plan B that worked so well for van Gaal on Sunday.
Hernandez has scored his fair share of headers and get up above defenders well for his size, but isn't a particularly imposing figure that can be sent direct service from all angles of the pitch. The taller, more aware Huntelaar would be the perfect player for that role, and he showed it in Brazil. He may not be keen on playing second fiddle to van Persie again, but adding someone in the mould of Huntelaar should be a priority for van Gaal.