Before we get started let me just first address the fact that this isn't written as a reflection to the weekend's humbling at the hands of Manchester City.
Though United were well and truly bested at the Etihad, the result in David Moyes' first Manchester derby didn't bring around a realisation that United weren't a top-class team, but it did add to the growing evidence siding with the fact that they have a lot of work to do this season if they are to win anything at all.
Despite there being legions of doubters over the long-term suitability of Moyes in the Old Trafford hot-seat, I'm one of those who is backing the Scot to succeed if given the same time his predecessor was.
Now although that does place me in a category which steers it's views towards optimism, it by no means implies I think United will challenge for major honours this year.
David Moyes inherited a title winning squad, this is true, but as is so often the case with modern football, a failure to evolve with the times can all too easily jeopardise your ambitions.
Once again I must refer to United's woeful transfer window, in which my mind they fell well behind their closest rivals with their inability to secure much needed signings in key positions.
Any advantage Sir Alex had left his successor with was lost before the first kick of a ball this season, and although it's unfair to suggest Moyes' charges aren't in the same league as the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, they no longer come close to ruling the roost.
Defeats to both Liverpool and City have damaged the Red Devils' credentials already this campaign and, with a squad that in truth looks dangerously bereft of a goal-threat in the absence of Robin van Persie, one fails to see how they will break down the defences of Europe's biggest teams when they're put to the test of doing so.
For me Manchester United are now largely made up either of players who are past their prime or have never shown glimpses of hitting it.
The likes of Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverly and even Nani don't look like they belong in the starting XI of a world-class side, and gone are the days when the team can rely on the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs to keep them out of trouble.
Once more it must be suggested that United's title-winning team of yesteryear didn't so much have foundations built in the brilliance of it's squad but rather in the brilliance of it's manager.
For the moment at least, David Moyes is no Sir Alex Ferguson and, no matter how many people claim him to be a close like-for-like replacement, he won't be for a considerable amount of time.
United fans, and perhaps more pertinently their rivals, should not forget that this was always going to be a time of transition.
To expect Rooney and co. to be steamrollering the Premier League in a manner befitting a team constructed by Sir Alex is ridiculous, and to expect Moyes to be able to mastermind a United victory away against what is, let's face it, a superior squad in City, isn't even worth considering.
United will eventually find their rhythm under their new gaffer, and success will most likely follow.
This season will however be a longer one than fans are used to.
With the 'Fergie factor' out the window, United lacking a strong core and their closest rivals seemingly having bridged the once impressive gap between them and the red half of Manchester, United could face a season of bitter disappointment.
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