But here was a tacit lesson in how to kill the mood and bring a grinding halt to momentum.
United’s frailties were laid bare in a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace – and it was all of their own making.
Now the final weeks of the window will become a panic. A club so determined not to be taken advantage of in the market now look desperate.
Don’t expect Borussia Dortmund to be open to cut price offers for Jadon Sancho.
United are closing in on Alex Telles – but on this evidence he won’t come close to fixing what’s wrong. And, yet again, it’s too little, too late.
Yet another window when their dithering in the market has sold their manager short.
A compromise may yet be reached over Sancho, but why allow themselves to go into a new campaign without the man Solskjaer craved more than any other?
Most depressing of all United supporters is the utter predictability of it all. This is a club that is making a habit of coming up short in the market.
It infuriated Jose Mourinho, who has just welcomed Gareth Bale Tottenham. And Solskjaer is becoming all too accustomed to it after ending his first summer without a striker or midfielder – and very nearly seeing last season’s Champions League pursuit wrecked by the failure to bring in Bruno Fernandes until the very end of the January window.
Now he enters a new season knowing he is still at least two players shy of the business he hoped to produce after a third-placed finish last term.
He was forced to answer awkward questions on the eve of this match.
He blamed a limited market and the impact of Covid-19 on the fact that Donny van de Beek was the only new arrival so far.
That hasn’t stopped Chelsea from bringing in a host of the best prospects in Europe. It hasn’t stopped Liverpool from signing a Champions League winner in Thiago Alcantara. Mourinho, meanwhile, is well underway with his Spurs overhaul.
But for United it was a heavy dose of reality after the all the optimism of the final weeks of last season.
They were sluggish, sloppy, clueless. Fernandes has never looked so ineffective.
A right hand side that comprised of Tim Fosu-Mensah and Daniel James felt more Championship than Champions League and only underlined the desperate need to add more strength in depth if United are really to break into the top two this season.
This was a case of winding the clock back 12 months to the darkest days of Solskjaer’s reign. When his team were losing to Palace (again), West Ham and Newcastle and there were serious doubts about how long he would last in the job.
A top three finish and return to European football’s grandest stage has quashed such talk – but a failure to bring in significant additions in time for the start of the campaign has exposed Solskjaer precisely when he needed backing from the club’s hierarchy.
Was it really any surprise that United produced such a listless display when starting the game without a single new face to provide a new-season boost?
The only new addition - Van de Beek – started on the bench – as did Mason Greenwood, who was such a breath of fresh air last term.
As a result United were plodding and predictable. It was the type of performance that made them such a soft touch for so much of Solskjaer’s first full campaign.
Anthony Martial was anonymous – as was Marcus Rashford. Pogba’s passing was loose. Victor Lindelof is increasingly a weak link in the heart of defence.
Everywhere Solskjaer looked there were problems. Palace cut through United’s midfield with ease.
On so many occasions they were left two against two – and but for the wrong decision their margin of victory could have been even more emphatic.
Lindelof and Fosu-Mensah should have done more to prevent Andros Townsend’s opener after seven minutes.
In reply United didn’t do anywhere near enough to force an equaliser with James’ delivery poor and Fernandes unable to get close enough to goal.
Palace’s second wasn’t without controversy – VAR awarding a penalty for the slightest contact from Lindelof’s hand to the ball and then ordering retake after David de Gea came off his line too early to deny Jordan Ayew.
The outstanding Wilfried Zaha stepped up the second time to fire past De Gea.
The former United winger was their chief tormentor and after Van de Beek gave the home side a glimmer of hope when striking with 10 minutes left, it was Zaha who put the game beyond doubt.
It was no more than Palace deserved. No more than United deserved.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
They went into the season ill-equipped to build on the success of last – and they paid the price.