Sir Alex Ferguson believes his first-choice central defensive partnership of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand can steer Manchester United back on track after their superb performance in the 2-1 win at Stoke.
Injury has hampered Ferdinand for the last two seasons and Sunday's narrow win was only the third time the duo have played alongside each other in the league all season.
The pair were instrumental in United's hat-trick of league titles between 2007 and 2009 and looked back to their very best in an afternoon which saw them head clear countless crosses, free-kicks and Rory Delap throw-ins as Javier Hernandez's double earned a first away win of the season.
Ferguson may have spent the week persuading Wayne Rooney to stay at the club but is under no illusions as to the importance of a solid back four.
He said: "It doesn't matter when you come here, it is always a difficult time. It is one of the hardest places to come in the league. They are such an enthusiastic and motivated team they make you play all the time.
"Both our central defenders will have sore heads. Rio and Nemanja were fantastic, really fantastic. You have to defend well because they get so many set-pieces and throw-ins. They got a lot of free-kicks and you have to defend them well. We did defend well and if we can defend like that for the rest of the season we will be back to a real solid determination to deal with all these things which will make some difference to us."