"If you're trying to get into the first team as a young player then you need to know the role and what's expected in that particular position," said Manchester United reserve coach Warren Joyce when speaking to the club's official website on the importance of replicating first-team manager Louis van Gaal's formation and tactics at lower levels of the club.
The Under-21s recently slayed Sunderland by a 4-0 score, with precocious talent Adnan Januzaj returning a hat-trick and Andreas Pereira also getting on the score-sheet. Summer signing Luke Shaw also featured, but was withdrawn halfway through the encounter.
"In the first half there were a lot of players who did their roles as required but the second half we were disjointed and if you look at areas of the pitch there were fewer to cut through.
"If you're looking at development, no matter what system you play you want them to know their jobs without the ball. That first half we did it, the second half we didn't do it well enough," said Joyce.
One of the players who will be looking to make a sustained impact from start to finish, is Januzaj. The Belgian attacker, 19, competed in 2,098 minutes worth of competitive first-team football last season but looks set to struggle to break into the senior team this season due to the recruitment strategy that has seen £59.7 million signing Angel di Maria transfer to the club.
Januzaj said: "Even if it's reserves level, I always have to show myself and improve. I got a hat-trick but I think I worked hard defensively as well and these are the kind of things I have to do now and at first-team level.
"Of course, I played a lot of games last season and I'm trying to impress the manager once again and get games again this year as well."
United's next U21 game is on Monday, September 29 at the Lamex Stadium as the team take on Tottenham Hotspur away from home.