Normal service resumed
Until Christmas the Premiership table should carry an extra column. A simple Y or N, for yes or no, would indicate whether or not teams have played Manchester United.
Not only would this add a sense of reality to the league positions, it would also prevent the sort of match Filbert Street witnessed on Saturday being hyped up as a "top-of-the-table clash", a "showdown" or a "summit shoot-out".
No fair person would have begrudged Leicester City their fortnight's leadership of the Premiership, nor their pleasure of anticipation in taking on the champions as top dogs. But, as a United side lacking six of its regular players dismantled Leicester's presumptuousness with the routine efficiency of a surgeon removing an appendix, it became clear that Peter Taylor's side, far from belonging to the upper table, were definitely below the salt.
Nothing should be taken away from Leicester's excellent start to the season. Before Saturday their defence had conceded two goals in eight Premiership matches and in the league they have yet to let one in away from home. In Neil Lennon, Robbie Savage and Muzzy Izzet, moreover, they have a better midfield than most.
None of which cut much ice with Manchester United, who controlled Saturday's match from start to finish without seriously breaking sweat. With Roy Keane directing operations in the massively authoritative manner of a regimental sergeant-major in the Irish Guards, Teddy Sheringham drifting into space at will, linking the play and scoring twice, and youngsters like Wes Brown and Quinton Fortune gaining in stature all the time, the game struggled to become a serious contest.
It seems reasonably safe to assume that most of those who missed Saturday's match will return on Wednesday night against PSV Eindhoven. Ryan Giggs, who played for the last 18 minutes against Leicester, and Paul Scholes will be there and so will Andy Cole provided an ankle injury has healed.
Ferguson also expects David Beckham, who missed England's World Cup match in Finland with a knee injury, to be fit. "He could have played today," the United manager admitted. But Jaap Stam, who has had exploratory surgery on a ruptured achilles, looks unlikely to be available until February.
The lack of Stam's presence at centre-back is bound to be a handicap as United strive to reach the second group phase of the Champions League while maintaining their challenge in the Premiership. Yet the maturing qualities of the 20-year-old Brown could go a long way towards making up for the Dutchman's absence.
"Wes Brown has got the class to become a top player," Ferguson enthused on Saturday. "He may have the odd rash moment but you get that in young players."
Brown and Ronny Johnsen dealt easily with most of Leicester's attacks, the best chance falling to Gary Rowett in the first half when a free-kick from Lennon found the defence concentrating on Matt Elliott and leaving Rowett free. But from a narrowish angle he lifted his shot over the bar.
The rest was largely down to Sheringham, who nodded United ahead from Denis Irwin's cross eight minutes before half-time and increased their lead 10 minutes after the interval when he followed up after Tim Flowers had parried Irwin's long shot. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer accepted a return ball from Dwight Yorke to complete the scoring in stoppage time.
Leicester City: Flowers, Rowett, Davidson, Gilchrist, Elliott, Impey (Guppy 59), Lennon, R Savage, Izzet (Sinclair 72), Akinbiyi (Cresswell 59), Eadie. Subs Not Used: Royce, Oakes.
Manchester United: Barthez, Irwin, Brown, Silvestre, Johnsen, Butt, Keane, Solskjaer, Fortune, Sheringham (Giggs 72), Yorke. Subs Not Used: Scholes, P Neville, Wallwork, Bosnich. Goals: Sheringham 37, 55, Solskjaer 90.
Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).