City threw away a 1-0 lead against last season's finalists Juventus to lose 2-1 at the Etihad while the Red Devils did the same at PSV Eindhoven, a match marred by a serious injury to Luke Shaw.
And speaking on Twitter after the first round of this season's Champions League matches on Tuesday night, Etherington said the defeats for both English sides is a sad indictment of the quality of the Premier League.
He said: "Said it last season and will say again, Premier League isn't the league it was.
"Summed up again tonight, really sad to see.
"Without doubt most entertaining, not the best in quality terms.
"It used to be both."
Said it last season and will say again, Premier League isn't the league it was. Summed up again tonight, really sad to see. #UCL— Matthew Etherington (@mattyethers) September 15, 2015
Without doubt most entertaining, not the best in quality terms. It used to be both. https://t.co/DrsmpE3Vgi— Matthew Etherington (@mattyethers) September 15, 2015
Etherington's words carry some weight considering he has only recently hung up his boots after a career which saw him play just shy of 300 games in what has long been billed the best league in the world.
Does European success translate as a good league?
But has he got a point? Some would argue European success isn't the only measure of the quality of a league.
This season alone has shown just how competitive the Premier League is with so-called "lesser" sides upsetting the odds to beat the elite clubs on a regular basis.
Perhaps that is because the top sides are getting worse while the smaller clubs, boosted by increased revenue, are getting stronger.
The pinnacle is the best barometer
But Champions League football is the pinnacle and the lack of success and progression of English clubs in the competition has been alarming in recent years.
Earlier this year Premier League chiefs secured a record-breaking £5.1bn domestic TV deal, reported on by the BBC, which certainly cemented its place as the richest league.
But the English top flight has not had a representative in the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition in two of the last three seasons.
While Manchester United still look like a club in transition, their rivals from the blue half of the city looked set to buck the recent trend after a perfect start to the new domestic season.
Both clubs could easily turn things around with five games still to play in the group stages.