Paul Scholes ponders Manchester United's defeat at Norwich City.
The Reds controlled most of the possession and territory in Norfolk but struggled to break down a disciplined Canaries defence, eventually losing to Anthony Pilkington’s 60th minute header.
Everyone inside Carrow Road waited patiently for the late attacking onslaught that has become synonymous with United this season, but surprisingly, another act of escapology did not arrive.
Defeat leaves the Old Trafford outfit trailing rivals Manchester City by a point in the Barclays Premier League and offers plenty of food for thought. Here, I assess three lessons that can be learned...
Patrice Evra fights for possession during Saturday's defeat to Norwich.
Manchester United's ability to secure victory from losing positions has been well documented this season following eight comeback wins in all competitions.
Such epic performances provide excellent viewing for supporters, although the seemingly inescapable habit of conceding the first and sometimes second goal is a burgeoning worry and must be considered a huge weakness—particularly when the bigger fixtures arrive.
It has been observed that the Reds have only sparked into life when backed into a corner, otherwise beginning matches in an alarmingly lethargic and near docile manner.
United's title credentials are from under scrutiny—but Sir Alex's men must begin to dominate from the first whistle if they are to wrestle the crown back from champions Manchester City.
Robin van Persie in action against Norwich City.
This season, Wayne Rooney has adapted his game to play in the hole behind striker partner Robin van Persie, dropping deep to provide the link between forward and middle lines.
Despite scoring just twice, the England international's performances have been of admirable quality—causing some pundits and fans to suggest a career as a centre midfielder might beckon in years to come.
Rooney did not feature against Norwich due to injury, forcing van Persie to plug the gap between Javier Hernandez and playmakers Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs.
Quite simply, this ploy did not work. Although a striker of the highest order, the Dutchman lacks the movement and work ethic of Rooney and, as a result, United lacked any genuine spark of creativity.
The sooner Wayne returns, the better.
Michael Carrick has started every Premier League matches for 12 months.
Every weekend, the average football writer worth his weight in cliches almost inevitably refers to a statistic that has been created to shine a light on a certain topic or theme.
Most of these, to be blunt, are pointless and irrelevant.
However, Saturday's match at Carrow Road was accompanied by the fact that Michael Carrick has started every one of Manchester United's Premier League fixtures for the last 12 months.
This is a remarkable truth that expressed Sir Alex Ferguson's unmovable faith in the former Tottenham midfielder whilst displaying his importance to all of the Reds' domestic endeavors.
Although often criticized by some for a lack of urgency or attacking drive, Carrick is a mainstay at Old Trafford and a grossly, inexplicably underrated talent in this writer's humble opinion.
Certain fans will do well to recognize how beneficial such consistency can be throughout a 38 games title race. Sometimes, the cog is not the problem—it's the machine.