UNITED began their hunt for a record-breaking fourth successive Premier League crown with victory over newly-promoted Birmingham.
The Reds looked rarely under pressure but only Wayne Rooney's first half strike separated the two sides.
Rio Ferdinand was the shock absentee leaving John O'Shea to skipper the Reds and partner Jonny Evans in central defence.
United put the visitors under intense pressure at the start of the game and Birmingham survived a penalty box scramble when both Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney looked to have chances to threaten the visitors goal.
Rooney then forced an excellent save from keeper Joe Hart when he collected Darren Fletcher's short pass and sent a shot curling towards the top corner, only for the keeper, making his debut on loan from City, to tip it over.
Nani then lifted a shot over the crossbar when he had time to do far better when Evra found him with a cut-back.
Birmingham were starting to creak and it was no surprise when their defences eventually broke, nor that Rooney should do the damage.
The England striker was involved in the build-up as he combined with Berbatov to present Nani with a chance to cross.
After a couple of poor corners earlier in the contest, this time Nani got it right. Rooney climbed above Queudrue and when his header bounced back off the post, he calmly tapped home.
Birmingham tried to respond immediately. Cameron Jerome saw his shot fizz wide off Paul Scholes and when Gregory Vignal rose highest at the corner, Patrice Evra had to acrobatically head off the line.
Ryan Giggs replaced Nani at half-time and, within 60 seconds of the restart, Rooney almost doubled United's advantage a minute when he launched a 30-yard effort goalwards, only for Hart to make the save.
Berbatov had a header cleared off the line before he was replaced by new signing Michael Owen.
Birmingham almost a snatched an equaliser in thr final 15 minutes but Ben Foster saved smartly from Christian Benitez.
Deep into injury time Owen had a chance to score his first goal when he was clean through but Hart saved the striker's shot with his feet.