Manchester United looked like they had the swagger of old as they began their new era yesterday.
The 20-time champions led from the front in their 3-1 win at Bournemouth in their opening game.
That is new boss José Mourinho’s style and his Manchester United team began by doing just that on Sunday.
They scored three goals in an away league win for the first time since October 17, 2015, sweeping aside dangerous opponents in the process.
And apart from some late resistance from an Adam Smith goal, United were always in control of the match.
More to the point, some important individuals made their mark on the Premier League and Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Juan Mata scored after he was subbed as a substitute at Wembley last week. So did Wayne Rooney. And Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has now found the net in his first game in Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1, the Champions League and the Premier League.
New signing Zlatan looked a Manchester United player from topknot to toe, saying: “The first objective is to win.
“The second to score and help the team win. It doesn’t matter who scores. But it’s a bonus.”
Mata, and a Bournemouth mistake, had the Red Devils 2-0 up by half time and there was an element of good fortune in the build-up to their second goal, too.
Antonio Valencia crossed from the right and Anthony Martial mishit a volley which cannoned into the turf, bouncing up to Rooney.
He reacted superbly, though, steering a header past Arthur Boruc with the assurance of a natural born goalscorer – which is exactly what he is.
Soon after, United won a free-kick outside the area, which Ibra took, forcing an outstanding save from Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc.
But he was not to be denied on his Premier League debut and in the 64th minute his attack outside the area deadly, killing any hope of a Bournemouth revival with a shot from 20 yards which flew low into the far corner.
Smith pulled one back for Bournemouth, cutting in on the right after a pass by Lewis Grabban, but the game was lost by then.
United went top. Just 90 minutes into the new season – but the last time it happened to a Mourinho team they did not relinquish the position until the title was won.
For those who thought United would only have to turn up with Mourinho and the majority his huge off-season signings in tow to win, this was a rude awakening.
It was not until the 24th minute that United had a shot of any significance, and not until the 27th that they got one on target.
The Premier League remains the toughest domestic competition in Europe, precisely because opponents such as Bournemouth are determinedly no pushovers.
Eddie Howe’s team did not make David de Gea work particularly hard, but they chase and harry and the pressure is on United this season.