United are suffered a blow when van Persie is ruled out with a groin strain. Having scored 26 goals last season, his influence is clearly missed as the game is dominated by City's strikers who run riot, emphasising the difference in class between the two sides at this fledgling stage of the season.
Moyes also fails to include Ryan Giggs in his match-day squad despite the Welshman's wealth of experience garnered from his 37 record Manchester derbies. This decision will go on to be questioned by many experts on the game, who believe that the Welshman's winning know-how developed under twenty years of Fergie's reign could have been a crucial factor in stabilising the shell-shocked United players.
Aguero scores to prove that last season's return of 23 goals was no fluke – his volley following a Kolarov cross was his third strike of the season, and also serves as the perfect tonic to settle any City nerves. This apparent ease of the preceding move and eventual finish undermines any confidence that Ferdinand and Vidic may have had going into the game.
Yaya Toure – who spent the afternoon reminding Marouane Fellaini that he is still far from being the finished article at this level – strikes just before half time to register his fourth goal this term. Felleini has little choice but to stand and admire the Ivory Coast international as he pulled the strings all game long, and will see this match as a reality check since leaving the relatively small pond that was Goodison Park.
Sergio Aguero strikes again just two minutes after the break. Clearly David Moyes' attempted hair-dryer treatment failed to keep his defenders' minds focussed, as City's slick build-up through Negredo and Kolorov cuts through a deflated United defence to all but ensure three points for the home side.
Moyes finally orders a change in personnel – but it is not the attacking option that the away fans are praying for. Instead, damage limitation appears to be the objective with Cleverley replacing Young. The England international comes on and offers some stability, but with fewer attacking options at his disposal, it already seems that the 3-0 is insurmountable.
Any hopes of rescuing respectability are evaporated when Nasri gets in on the action, volleying home Jesus Navas's cross to build a 4-0 lead. The home fans go into delirium, and making a mockery of the famous chant that echoed around Old Trafford when Sir Alex was talking of retiring, start chanting “Moyes must stay!”
A combination of City easing-off, United's desire to rescue some pride, and Cleverley's ball-winning influence in the middle of the park finally lead to some spells of pressure on Joe Hart's goal. Fellaini has a shot well-saved and Evra hits the post with a powerful header, but as the minutes tick by, their endeavour only seems to make the defeat all the more difficult towatch for the travelling fans.
Wayne Rooney's late consolation goal makes him the leading scorer in Manchester derbies with a total of eleven strikes, moving ahead of Joe Hayes and Francis Lee. The forward may have been hankering for a move in the off-season, but now that he has decided to stay, his desire to win is still as obvious as ever.
The final whistle meant that United have won only two of their opening five fixtures – but oddly enough, in six of their last thirteen title-winning seasons, they have started in exactly this fashion. With just three points separating the two teams at this stage, both managers will be all too aware that there is a long way to go before the title is decided.
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