Sir Alex Ferguson is chewing gum in his technical area when the ball comes spinning out of the sky towards him.
With a touch he kills it and rolls it back down the line with his right foot. It draws a murmur of appreciation and a couple of gasps from Tottenham fans who sit close to the benches at White Hart Lane.
Ferguson turns to give them a little nod and half a smile, then says: ‘Not bad, eh? Don’t worry, I’ll never lose it.’
The same could be said of his team. Shorn of the services of two of the world’s finest attackers in the summer, embarrassed at Burnley in their second league game of the season and a goal down within a minute at Tottenham on Saturday.
No sweat. Even when Paul Scholes was sent off, leaving them to play half an hour with 10 men, United had things under control.
Just like their manager. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp said: ‘People had started to write them off, saying Chelsea were going to win the title.
‘But United are going to be bang in there. There’s always movement and three or four options every time they get the ball.
'Someone’s popping off, Berbatov’s coming short, Rooney’s pulling into a position, the wide man’s coming off the line into holes. It’s fantastic.That’s what the top teams do.’
This United performance was delivered like a statement. Drafted for those who dared to doubt or those who think titles are won in September.
Or those wondering if the established order is under threat from Spurs and Manchester City. Or for City themselves, due at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Maybe it was a series of personal statements. There was revenge in the eyes of Patrice Evra, as he nullified the threat of Aaron Lennon, the in-form winger who had terrorised him in last year’s Carling Cup final.
Anderson, not selected since the defeat at Turf Moor, scored his first United goal and flourished against a Spurs midfield unit which included the creative luxuries of Lennon and Robbie Keane but missed Luka Modric.