Since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson, European nights at Old Trafford have become traditional reference points for Manchester United's progress and have arguably assumed even greater significance now as David Moyes - a novice in that environment - embarks on the job of succeeding the great Scot.
On Wednesday, Moyes and his players looked like they welcomed the opportunity to turn the spotlight away from United's past under Ferguson and back to the present after an unsatisfactory start to the season and more recently after a catastrophic home draw to Southampton in the Premier League - a game which they were leading for so long.
It was mission accomplished with the 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday secured courtesy of Inigo Martinez's comical second-minute own goal, hopelessly kneed-in following a moment of magic from man-of-the-match Wayne Rooney.
Towards the end of the half, another man started drifting to the middle and taking control of things. Shinji Kagawa, the Japanese No.10 who started the night as United's makeshift left-winger, was getting more opportunity to drift inwards and certainly shone in the second half in particular.
This was made possible with veteran Ryan Giggs being more than willing to cover for him on the wing and when Kagawa got possession in the middle, that is when United were at their fluid best.
In fact, Kagawa and another man who impressed yesterday, Antonio Valencia, were the ones who looked more likely to add to the lead in the second half.
Towards the end, Giggs rolled back the years and with his dribbles and trickery set up another couple of attacks which, on a different day, could have been converted into goals. As Moyes said, if the scoreline was 5/6-0, it probably wouldn't have been an unfair scoreline for the game.
As it happened, it finished 1-0 and United got the three points which put them at the top of the group. This is certainly great news if they hold high hopes of progressing into the latter stages as pretty much all of the rest of the big guns seem to be dispatching lesser teams emphatically.
United, while being happy with the win, must be dreading looking at the Premier League table. They barely make the top 10 and while their defence has not been the most solid foundation, the crux of the issue is the fact that they are not killing teams off despite creating enough chances for it.
Maybe the return of a fit-again Van Persie will change that this weekend.
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