From the moment Chris Smalling opened his mouth to say that the Manchester derby would be 100 miles an hour, it should have set alarm bells ringing. For his idea of a quick-tempo encounter was apparently more of a drag race than that of a smartly-navigated autobahn - which is something boss Louis Van Gaal will know all about from his time in Munich. The Dutchman will be forgiven for imagining in horror the carnage on British roads if speed limits were ever relaxed in such a way, after the predicament his passionate-yet-clueless defender had put him in became all too clear.
Manchester United were already up against it, given the recent history of this derby - four league defeats in succession becomes five as Manchester City swatted aside suggestions that United were ready to prematurely snatch back their local dominance. Instead, the red half of Manchester must ponder their worst league since 1986 and the dark days of Ron Atkinson. Is it too late to prize David Moyes away from the heady heights of the Real Sociedad job?
In the sensible realms of reality, the Van Gaal project, while not exactly purring along, is showing signs of long-term fruition. The Moyes-manned eleven men of United were dismantled 4-1 last season, and whilst this is not the same swaggering City of twelve months ago, progress can surely be noted. If even Alan Pardew can haul Newcastle out of their slump (for this week) on his peanuts of a transfer budget, Van Gaal will sense a return to Europe on United's horizon.