There is something special about European nights at Old Trafford, the atmosphere, the floodlights, the anticipation among the fans and not least the chance to see the best teams and players in Europe visit the famous stadium.
United welcomed Club Brugge for the first leg of their qualifying tie and it was the first time that United had faced the Belgian team in any competitive match. However, United's first ever venture into the European Cup was against another Belgian side, Anderlecht, whom United beat 10-0 in the second leg at Old Trafford beginning their illustrious association with the competition.
The last time United found themselves in this position was exactly a decade ago when they beat Debrecen fc of Hungary 6-0 over two legs with the likes of Ronaldo, van Nistelrooy and Rooney leading the attack with the latter coming under criticism from many quarters this week after his below-par displays in United's opening two games of this season. Here was a chance to prove the naysayers wrong.
The only change was on the bench where Fellaini replaced McNair: Johnstone, Valencia, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Fellaini, Young, Chicharito.
1st half: United kicked off the match attacking the old scoreboard end and immediately went on the attack with a superb through ball by Mata into the path of Januzaj who delivered a low cross which Rooney only just failed to meet. A great start by the Red Devils and by the fans who were in fine voice.
Rooney then found Memphis with a cross-field pass, but the young winger couldn't make a clean connection. At the other end slight confusion in the home penalty area almost gifted Brugge a penalty thankfully the ref waved play on.
An exciting opening five minutes that even saw Chris Smalling create an attack by confidently running out of defence and passing the ball to the lively Rooney who crossed but too close to the keeper.
After a great early start for United, that goal was a bad blow but there was plenty of time to bounce back.
From that point on United applied the pressure with a succession of corners of which Rooney came agonisingly close to adding a second on two occasions.
United had a let off after the half-hour mark when Brugge attacked and a low Dierckx cross from the right thankfully eluded everyone in the penalty area, but it was a warning. Then United went up the other end with Memphis clear on goal but with only the keeper to beat, he inexplicably decided to square the ball across towards Mata but it didn't reach the Spaniard, a wasted chance. Then the Dutch winger tried to make amends with a rasping drive from the edge of the box but the keeper punched it clear.
Half Time: After falling behind to an unlucky own goal United took control of the game and really deserved to be ahead at half time. Memphis gave by far his best performance in the red of United and aided by the running of Januzaj, Mata and Rooney the attack looked to be clicking for the first time this season. The defence were also holding up well, however Brugge still posed a threat when attacking.
2nd half: In the second half United were hoping to score more goals at the Stretford End to make the tie more comfortable ahead of the return leg in Belgium next week. Louis van Gaal made only one change at half time by making his customary swap of Carrick for the German Schweinsteiger, who would add both steel and experience to the midfield.
United started the livelier of the two teams with both Mata and Memphis trying their luck on goal. Memphis almost completed his hat-trick after he was allowed to shoot from the same distance as his two goals but this time the keeper was more alert than his defenders.
After an hour it was all United as they totally controlled the game and were passing the ball around comfortably and at this point had achieved eleven shots to Brugge's one but still needed to add to the score line.
Then it was squeeky bum time as Schneiderlin played a suicidal back pass to Romero, who was clipped by Oulare as he tried a rushed clearance. Luckily no goal and no serious foot injury to Romero. After the treatment to Romero, Darmian tried to put things right by launching an attack and winning a corner.
In the 66th minute, Schweinsteiger almost added his name to the scoresheet when he nearly converted a corner but the defence managed to clear.
In the 71st minute, the fans saw the return of Hernandez, after his season-long loan spell, return to action for United to replace Januzaj.
With 20 minutes left United became a little too anxious to add another goal and it took the likes of Schweinsteiger to calm the less experienced players down.
Brugge defender Mechele fouled Hernandez which earned him a second booking and a subsequent red so United would play the last ten minutes against ten men. This was followed by a caution for Smalling.
Louis van Gaal decided that it was time for the introduction of the 'unmarkable' Fellaini as he replaced captain Rooney in the 83rd minute.
Fellaini immediately set about at making a nuisance of himself in attack as United tried to make use of his height in the penalty area and it almost worked as the Belgian planted a header just wide of the far post.
During the last five minutes, United threw everything at Brugge and Smalling almost delivered with a close range header that the keeper somehow managed to save.
After missing out on the elite competition last season it was imperative that United didn't slip up at the first hurdle and by winning they have taken a huge step towards the Champions League proper. It wasn't just the win that was important, but the manner in which they achieved it with some breathtaking attacking football that had the crowd on its feet with almost every attack. It was like the United of old.
Brugge didn't help their cause with the red card and will find it difficult to overcome the score line in Belgium but United still have to be wary of their forwards on their own ground. However, you would expect United to grab at least one away goal.
There were many performances of note from the home side, especially in the back four and Schneiderlin in midfield, who quietly and efficiently went about his job, but there was only one man of the match and that had to be Memphis Depay.
United are back in Europe and back with a bang.
Until next time thanks for reading.