All eyes were on returning Rio, all ears tuned to the demonstrations against the Glazer family but it was the breathtaking brilliance of Wayne Rooney which ensured Sir Alex Ferguson was granted his wish that the red half of Manchester remains United this week.
Once Boaz Myhill, the hero of Hull's goalless draw at White Hart Lane, spilled an awkward long drive from Paul Scholes into Rooney's path in the seventh minute, the champions were certain to reclaim their place at the Premier League's summit.
It was just a question of how many goals would follow.
Thunderbolt: Wayne Rooney opens the scoring at Old Trafford
But Darren Fletcher, Michael Owen, Ji-Sung Park, Nani and Darron Gibson were all wasteful, much to Rooney's chagrin, even though he missed two himself.
As he departed with the match ball after scoring four for the first time in his career, including three in the devastating final eight minutes, Rooney was still berating Gibson for one aimless shot which had denied him a goalscoring opportunity.
It was Rooney's persistence which finally breached Hull a second time after Myhill had been deceived by Nani's free-kick. Rooney somehow scooped the loose ball into a packed area before Gibson showed he had learned his lesson with a cute pass which the England man thrashed past the City keeper.
Double trouble: Rooney smashes home a second
With a substantial wage bill to cut and a former chairman facingHigh Court proceedings from the club following allegations surroundingHull's transfers, boss Phil Brown has enough on his plate withoutworrying about the merits of Rooney, a very obvious asset for theUnited board.
But after witnessing his single-handed demolition, completed by two sublime finishes to Nani and Dimitar Berbatov's clever work, Brown was polite enough to offer his assessment of the player who Sir Alex is threatening to rest. As if he could afford to.
Brown said: 'You are asking a guy who has managed a couple of seasons in the Premier League to advise someone who has managed for 23 or 24. Sir Alex will get it right.
It's a knockout: Rooney (centre) celebrates with Jonny Evans (left) and Darren Fletcher
'It would be great to manage Wayne Rooney. The lad just wants to play football. He still has that boyish enthusiasm that you want from every player. He has that in abundance.
'His movement is fantastic and his attitude is brilliant. He always tests a defender and you never know where he is.
'If your concentration levels are lapsing as you fatigue, Wayne is there to stick it in.'
And spare a thought for Brown's captain Anthony Gardner.
He was tormented throughout by Rooney and said: 'He is one of the toughest strikers to play against. He has all the attributes: great feet, great awareness, pace, he is strong on the ball and scores with his head as well.
'He has everything. He is hard to mark because he goes deep and is a kind of floating striker.
'As a defender, sometimes you want someone who goes right up against you. With players like Rooney, when he goes in the hole you can't pick him up and it can disturb where you are on the pitch. He takes you where you don't want to go.
'With the World Cup coming up and as an England fan, I am just glad he is English and I just hope he does the business out there.'
Rio WatchOut with a back injury since October, Rio Ferdinand breezed through the game in central defence alongside the impressive Jonny Evans.
There was one incident when he appeared to swing an arm at Craig Fagan as they jostled inside the area, awaiting the arrival of a Hull free-kick.
The officials missed it but it was picked up for debate by the eagle-eyed TV cameras.
Fergie PleaIn his programme notes, Sir Alex Ferguson pleaded for disgruntled fans to avoid fanning the flames engulfing the club's owners, 'Some are clearly unhappy with the financial position,' he conceded.
'But we mustn't allow the situation to become divisive.'
That plea appeared to fall on deaf ears. Some United fans are refusing to wear red opting for the green and gold of founding club Newton Heath until the Glazers depart Old Trafford.
On deaf ears: Sir Alex Ferguson pleaded for calm in his programme notes
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