When the draw was made for this season's Champions League group stages many fans worried about facing CSKA for no other reason than it would involve a long round trip to the Russian capital for the squad, especially considering that on their return to Manchester they would have the small matter of a local derby to look forward to a few days later.
Buoyed by a brilliant display away at Everton the squad looked to be on a high in the build up to the match against the twelve-time Russian champions who like United and the other teams in the group were all locked on 3 points prior to this match.
Louis van Gaal had a small quandary and that was whether or not to stick with the side that performed so well at Goodison Park with fit again Herrera and Rojo the standout performers or recall the players who hadn't featured including Memphis, Blind and Valencia. In the end the manager decided to freshen things up by choosing a starting XI which included: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Lingard, Martial and Rooney.
So, a surprising start for youngster Jesse Lingard, who got the nod ahead of Juan Mata on the night and a recall for Valencia in place of Darmian. It was Valencia who scored the winner in this same fixture six years ago to the day.
Mata must have done something to irk the manager as he was pulled off against Everton at half-time and overlooked tonight, even though van Gaal stated it was due to the Spaniard needing a little rest, also the Dutch duo of Memphis and Blind had to start from the bench after being overlooked for the second straight match.
De Gea saved Eremenko's resulting penalty, but it was Doumbia who reacted quicker than the United defence, especially Phil Jones, to poke the rebound home and put the Russians ahead. That was probably Martial's first mistake in his fledgling United career, but one that hopefully he will learn from.
Following the penalty, the play became a little scrappy with some heavy challenges going in with United taking their time to get into any sort of rhythm. On the half hour, David De Gea pulled off a fantastic one-handed save at full stretch to prevent the ball entering the top corner from an audacious attempt from Musa.
At half-time, United went in trailing to the penalty and if not for De Gea it could have been worse. This was a poor showing by the away side who had around 70% of the possession during the opening 45 minutes, but had absolutely nothing to show for it and would be hoping that the situation could be rectified in the second half.
There was absolutely no cohesion with the players in attack and it wasn't until the hour mark that the visitors managed an effort on goal when Rooney had a near post effort saved. Lingard then tried his luck, however, his perfectly timed run was wrongly adjudged to be offside.
The second change saw Blind enter the fray when he replaced Rojo and straight after the change United pulled level through Martial. The French striker made amends for giving away the penalty by producing a stunning header inside the penalty area following an excellent cross from Valencia.
Not for the first time this season United looked a different side from the first half and began to push forward for the winner as Memphis became the last substitution when he came on for the hard-working Lingard to see out the last ten minutes of the match.
Fellaini had a late chance to grab all three points following good work from Memphis whose deep inswinging cross was flicked back into the danger area by Martial, unfortunately Fellaini couldn't add the finishing touch that was desperately needed. Fellaini was then needlessly cautioned for giving away a free-kick after a dithering Jones failed to support the Belgian, poor play by Jones who dropped his colleague in trouble.
How long will it be before van Gaal bites the bullet and leaves his skipper out. In the second half, Martial once again proved that he deserves the chance to play in the central strikers role.
At the back Jones produced his usual unconvincing display and he doesn't exactly fill his colleagues with confidence and the best fit would be either Blind or Rojo playing alongside Smalling with the other filling in at left back.
With a possible banana skin of a match out of the way United can now head back to England and concentrate fully on the 170th derby against City on Sunday, a match that will not only decide which team will have the bragging rights around the city but will also determine which side gains the upper hand in the league.
Thanks for reading.