With Rooney and Michael Owen ruled out through injury, Dimitar Berbatov rested and with Javier Hernandez only playing 10 minutes in preparation for Sunday's Premier League trip to Stoke, Macheda carried the United attack against Bursaspor on Wednesday night.
At times it looked too much for the 19-year-old former Lazio academy graduate, even if Sir Alex Ferguson felt it was excellent experience.
However, with games piling up and the possibility remaining that Rooney will never pull on a red United shirt again, Macheda might have to get used to the added pressure.
It is not a responsibility he is shirking. But he would rather Rooney was around to share.
"There would be more chances for me if Wayne wasn't here but it is better to have him in the squad," said Macheda.
"He is a good striker. The squad is stronger with him here."
The words at least proved Macheda was not intentionally attacking Rooney a fortnight ago when he labelled the Merseysider a fellow "chav".
They are unlikely to even start healing a rift between Rooney and his club that looks certain to seal his departure during the January transfer window.
Yet Macheda simply does not agree with Rooney's assessment that the current United squad lack quality.
The Italy Under-21 star insists trophies are still the aim for Ferguson and his team.
"We are capable of challenging for major trophies," he said.
"We have a great squad. We work hard every day to win things."
Macheda can now prepare himself to play an increased role in that challenge, if not at Stoke, then Wolves in the Carling Cup next week.
"I am young," he said.
"Every time the manager chooses me I try to get better.
"I have been working hard in training every day for the day when I become a real player.
"It is not easy to play a full 90 minutes in a game like last night's, especially for someone as young as me.
"But I got through it and that will help. I wish I had got a goal. Hopefully next time."