Debutants Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell were among the scorers as Manchester United ran out comfortable 4-0 winners against Wigan at Old Trafford.
Fullback Buttner—signed from Dutch club Vitesse in the summer—claimed United's third with a powerful run and finish on 66 minutes. The 18-year-old Powell then came off the bench to fire home from the edge of the box and give United fans reason to believe he can replicate the form he showed with Crewe last season.
Their goals came after Paul Scholes scrambled home to put United ahead early in the second half, and Javier Hernandez tapped home for their second to make up for an early penalty miss.
Clearly mindful of his team's Champions League opener against Turkish side Galatasaray on Wednesday, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson omitted Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley from his starting lineup, opting for the veteran duo of Ryan Giggs and Scholes at the fulcrum of a traditional 4-4-2 formation.
With Wayne Rooney out injured, attacking duties fell to Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, and it was the former who saw his early penalty saved by Ali Al-Habsi after the Wigan goalkeeper had been harshly judged to have felled Welbeck, running away from goal.
That disappointment arrived just five minutes in and set the tone for United's fairly lacklustre offering in the first half. In truth, it was Wigan who enjoyed the better chances, with Ivan Ramis and Arouna Kone both going close for Roberto Martinez's men.
Ferguson resisted the temptation to unleash his stars in waiting from the bench for the second half. His patience was rewarded with three goals in the space of 14 second-half minutes, as United pushed forward and began to force the tempo against a Wigan team that was there for the taking.
When Buttner's strike squeezed past Al-Habsi, the United manager decided to relieve Giggs and Scholes and replace them with Van Persie and Powell.
By then, Wigan were reeling. Holes were appearing everywhere and Old Trafford was baying for blood as the visitors—doubling as a sacrificial offering—struggled to contain the red tide. Van Persie should have scored within seconds of coming on, and soon enough Powell got what will surely be the first of many goals in a United shirt.
The final whistle came to Wigan's rescue, but there must be concern for their survival after a performance this poor. This was a one-sided contest that emphatically disproved the notion there are no easy games in the Premier League.
For Ferguson and United, victory was all-important. But to have achieved it while resting several of his key players will make for some very contented wine drinking from Sir Alex this evening.