Fit-again Wayne Rooney didn't make the team; Nani and Scholes didn't make the match-day squad. And for once Shinji Kagawa played in his best position. Danny Welbeck kept his berth thanks to a Man of the Match performance against Liverpool.
The big surprise was Phil Jones playing in midfield. He also is fit, and Sir Alex wants to give him as many games as possible.
Until 2:50 p.m. the match was not certain to go ahead, with snow falling in London for much of the day and tons of it needing clearing from the pitch before the referee gave the go-ahead.
The big question was how much of a factor the snow would be. Theoretically it favoured United. They had a sub-zero game on Wednesday and trained in Arctic conditions for much of the week, before travelling to London.
There was absolutely no reason for the game not to be played. Sir Alex was apparently keen, but Spurs were perhaps more reluctant. On reflection, a fixture pile-up may have been preferable to the outcome for United.
We are seeing increasing evidence that Roman Abramovich was premature in dispensing with Andre Villas-Boas. He has twice outsmarted Sir Alex this season. His team can play with real verve.
But how good are they?